Glaucoma

High Pressure Eye Damage

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that slowly damages your optic nerve, reducing your peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is an important aspect of healthy sight—it allows you to see things “out of the corner of your eye” and gives you a wider field of vision. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US, which is why it needs to be caught early and carefully managed.

How Glaucoma Harms Your Eyes

Glaucoma is related to your internal eye pressure. The front chamber of your eye is filled with a fluid called aqueous humor. If too much of this fluid gets produced, or the drainage system for the fluid doesn’t work properly, it can begin to build up pressure in the back of the eye, this increased pressure damages your highly sensitive optic nerve, reducing your peripheral vision. Age is a risk factor. Other factors can increase your risk as well, including a family history of the disease or other eye conditions. There are actually several types of glaucoma: primary open-angle, angle-closure, normal-tension, and a few other less common types. Certain kinds of this condition are more serious than others and can lead to more rapid vision loss. Unfortunately, once the pressure has damaged your optic nerve, there isn’t a way to restore the lost areas of sight. The problem is permanent. That’s why it is so crucial to catch the problem as early as possible and begin treating it, so it can be stopped from progressing.

Catching Peripheral Vision Loss

Senior man getting his cornea checked

Glaucoma is typically diagnosed during normal eye exams. Our eye care team tests eye pressure as a basic part of your eye check-up. They also look in your eyes to examine your optic nerve, checking for signs of early damage. Normally the condition can be caught well before you notice any symptoms of the problem. This is because most symptoms aren’t noticeable, particularly for primary open-angle glaucoma, which is the more common type of the disease. Over time, you develop patches of blind spots in your peripheral vision. The problem progresses slowly, though, so it may be a while before you notice any issues. By the time you may notice a change in your sight, the damage is done and you could have significant vision loss. Angle-closure glaucoma is different, it’s less common and more severe, with more noticeable symptoms. Often people develop serious headaches, intense eye pain, nausea, and blurry vision. You might notice “halos” around lights as well. This condition moves much more rapidly and is an eye emergency—you need immediate treatment to prevent blindness.

Controlling Glaucoma

Fortunately, glaucoma is treatable. There is no cure for the condition, but medications can help control the problem, and ongoing eye care monitors its progress. Daily medication eye drops help your eyes regulate their pressure. Because the condition can change without warning, our Sight Eye Clinic team will perform regular checks throughout the year to make sure your medication is working and your condition is stable. If medication is not enough, laser procedures or surgery may help. Catching and treating the problem early can help you prevent this loss and keep your eyes healthy. If you are at risk for this condition, have noticed changes in your peripheral vision, or just haven’t been checked in a while, don’t wait. Contact Sight Eye Clinic in Zeeland, MI, for more information or an appointment today by calling (616) 772-2020.

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