What Is The Eye Disease Glaucoma?
Try to think back to your last eye exam. Your eye doctor probably performed a test where he used either a puff of air or blue light to check the pressure in your eye. It’s a little weird, and a little in your personal space, but it’s a pretty important test. He may or may not have told you, but he was monitoring for the eye disease glaucoma. Maybe you’ve heard the word thrown around before, but what is glaucoma, and how serious is it? Check it out:
The Eye Disease Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a condition where the interocular pressure of your eye or eyes builds up and becomes too high for your optic nerve to tolerate.
Your optic nerve, which is the nerve that connects your eye to your brain so it can interpret what you’re seeing, can only handle a certain amount of pressure before it begins to be crushed, resulting in irreparable damage and vision loss.
The vision loss is gradual over time, but can result in total blindness if the issue goes unaddressed.
So the eye disease glaucoma is no joke.
Glaucoma – The Silent Thief Of Sight
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to staying ahead of the eye disease glaucoma is that it normally has no warning signs. It’s often called the silent thief of sight, because most of the time it will cause a lot of damage to your vision before it causes you any discomfort or you notice your sight changing. Your brain is an amazing adapter, and will adjust to compensate for vision loss until you’ve lost a significant amount.
The only way to detect glaucoma in its early stages is to have regular, thorough eye exams that include a glaucoma screening. This is one reason that we encourage our patients to come in at least once a year, so that we can check their eye health and be sure no eye diseases are developing inside the eyes.
The Eye Disease Glaucoma – What Can We Do About It?
Think of your eye being similar to your bathroom sink at home. There’s one way for water to come in and one way for water to go out. If you turn the water on too hard or the drain is filled with hair and debris, the sink starts to fill up. The same principle can happen inside your eye.
Anatomically, there is a physical drain in your eye where your iris (the colored part of your eye) meets your cornea (the front part of your eye, or the watch crystal you see through). With glaucoma, either the spigot is turned up high and too much water comes in OR the drain doesn’t work well and can’t let the water out fast enough. If you have a naturally small drain or your eye begins to produce too much fluid too quickly, pressure builds up.
When we diagnose someone with glaucoma we usually can’t tell which issue is causing the pressure build-up, but most of the time we believe it’s a problem with the drain. Using medication, we can work to either turn the spigot down (i.e. cause the eye to produce less fluid) or prescribe a drop that works like Drano to flush and open up the drain and let fluid out more quickly.
The Eye Disease Glaucoma – It Doesn’t Have To Steal Your Vision
Glaucoma can destroy your vision and decrease your quality of life, but it doesn’t have to. Much of the time, a simple eye drop regiment can prevent glaucoma from progressing and changing your vision at all. Even with more severe cases of the disease, there is much we can do to stabilize the issue. Don’t make the mistake of waiting to get your eyes checked just because you don’t notice visual changes. Take the proactive approach – stay up to date with regular eye health checks, and let us keep your eyes healthy for decades to come.