What Exactly is Glaucoma?

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Glaucoma is one of the most common eye diseases, affecting more than 3 million U.S. residents over the age of 40. The disease damages your eye’s optic nerve and happens as a result of fluid building up in the front part of the eye. The fluid builds up, then puts pressure on the eye, leading to damage to the optic nerve and even blindness in some serious cases. In fact, glaucoma is the number one cause of blindness in people over the age of 60. However, there are numerous effective treatment options for glaucoma, as long as it is caught early on.

The first thing to keep in mind when looking at glaucoma is that there are two main types: primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma (sometimes called closed-angle glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma). The optic nerve has more than 1 million nerve fibers, if you can believe it. When this nerve bundle is damaged, it can result in serious vision issues. There are numerous risk factors that may contribute to either form of glaucoma, namely high blood pressure and eye pressure. Before we go any further, let’s take a closer look at each type of glaucoma.

● Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma – This is far and away the most common type of glaucoma and occurs gradually. Those who are diagnosed with primary open-angle glaucoma likely developed the condition over a period of time when the eye fails to drain fluid as it should. When this happens, eye pressure starts to build up and damage the optic nerve. Fortunately, this type glaucoma causes no pain and doesn’t affect the vision in the beginning. It is important to visit your Arlington primary eye care doctor at least twice a year to ensure your eyes are healthy and there is no sign of glaucoma.

● Angle-Closure Glaucoma – This type of glaucoma is not nearly as common as the aforementioned, but it is far more dangerous. Individuals with angle-closure glaucoma suffer from an iris that is too close to the drainage angle in the eye. Over time the iris can actually block the drainage angle. In some cases, the angle becomes 100 percent blocked, causing eye pressure to rise quickly. When this happens, it is imperative you go to the emergency room or your emergency eye doctor. Signs of acute angle-closure glaucoma include:
○ Sudden blurry vision
○ Severe eye pain
○ Headache
○ Nausea
○ Rainbow-colored rings around lights

Both types of glaucoma are serious and should be treated by an experienced glaucoma eye doctor. If you are having trouble with your vision or are in need of an eye checkup, please give our Arlington vision center a call today. We will be able to determine if you have glaucoma through a comprehensive dilated eye exam that looks at how well you can see at various distances, how your peripheral vision is, and what the pressure inside your eye is at. To learn more about glaucoma or to schedule an appointment, please give First Eye Care a call today.

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