Glaucoma is often referred to as the "sneak thief of sight" because of its ability to cause vision loss without symptoms. Glaucoma is a disease that can cause irreparable vision loss. It is estimated that over two million Americans have glaucoma and an estimated half of them do not know it.
Vision loss from glaucoma occurs when the intraocular pressure becomes elevated and begins to damage the optic nerve. Once the optic nerve is damaged it is not possible to recover lost vision. There are two main forms or glaucoma: open angle and closed angle.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. Although it cannot be cured, if caught early, open-angle glaucoma can be controlled so that the patient experiences little vision loss.
The eye receives its nourishment from the fluid that circulates inside of the eye. This fluid must keep a steady flow in and out of the eye to maintain normal intraocular pressure. If for any reason the fluid is not allowed to exit the eye fast enough, or if fluid is being made faster than it can be drained, the intraocular pressure will rise to dangerous levels.
With open-angle glaucoma, something has gone wrong with the drainage canal, and fluid can not drain fast enough. This fluid pressure pushes up against the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. This causes irreparable damage over time. There are no symptoms of early stage open-angle glaucoma. The first symptoms occur after vision damage has already started.
Treatment for glaucoma is aimed at gaining control and preventing further vision loss. Unfortunately, treatment cannot repair vision already lost. The goal of treatment is to lower intraocular pressure. Your doctor may prescribe medicine or suggest laser therapy.
Closed-angle glaucoma is much rarer and progresses rapidly. With closed-angle glaucoma, the drainage canals get blocked or covered over. This results in pressure rising suddenly, usually in only one eye.
The symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma often occur rapidly. The onset of these symptoms is an emergency and medical help should be sought immediately.
Symptoms of narrow-angle glaucoma :
A laser iridotomy is the most common treatment for closed-angle glaucoma. A laser is used to create a tiny hole in the iris, allowing fluid to flow to the front of the eye.