Glaucoma is a health problem where the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly builds up and doesn’t drain properly. Instead, the fluid collects and causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the retina with the brain. This damage leads to loss of eyesight.
There are many different types of glaucoma:
- Open-angle glaucoma
- Low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma
- Angle-closure glaucoma
- Childhood glaucoma
- Congenital glaucoma
- Primary glaucoma
- Secondary glaucoma
The causes of glaucoma are unknown. Even people with normal fluid pressure inside the eyes can lose their eyesight from glaucoma.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma. However, some people are at higher risk than others. The risk factors for glaucoma are:
- Race. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness for African-Americans.
- Age. People ages 60 and older are more at risk for developing glaucoma.
- Family history. People with a family history of glaucoma are more likely to develop the disease.
- High fluid pressure inside the eyes. People with a high fluid pressure inside the eyes are at an increased risk.
Anyone in these risk groups should get an eye exam with dilated pupils every two years.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Most people who have glaucoma do not notice any symptoms until they start to lose some of their eyesight. As optic nerve fibers are damaged by glaucoma, small blind spots may begin to develop. They usually happen on the side or in their peripheral vision. Many people do not notice the blind spots until significant optic nerve damage has already happened. If the entire nerve is destroyed, the person becomes blind.
One type of glaucoma, called acute angle-closure glaucoma, does produce noticeable symptoms. This is because there is a quick buildup of pressure in the eye. These are the most common symptoms of this type of glaucoma. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Blurred or narrowed field of vision
- Severe pain in the eyes
- Haloes or “rainbows” around lights
The symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma may look like other eye problems. Get medical attention right away if you notice symptoms in order to prevent blindness.
While glaucoma can’t be cured, early treatment can often control it. Our treatments may include:
- Prescribed eye drops
- Laser surgery
- Tube shunt
In some cases, a single surgery isn’t enough to slow down the progress of glaucoma. In those cases, repeat surgery and/or continued treatment with medicines may be necessary.
Halifax Health - Ophthalmology
Halifax Health – Ophthalmology provides comprehensive treatment or surgical plans for your eye condition needs. You will have confidence that you are in the best hands during your treatment plan as our ophthalmologist, Dr. Nishita Patel, is Halifax Health’s only eye trauma surgeon at our Level II Trauma Center. This means that your eyes are in the care of a doctor who has extensive training and experience to handle not only regular eye treatments but also those emergency cases that can save someone’s eye health or vision.