Causes and Treatments for Glaucoma
Glaucoma affects many Americans and is one of the leading causes of blindness in developed countries. However, it is not a particularly widely known disease. Most people do not know what the main hallmarks for glaucoma are. In fact, it is estimated that no less than two million Americans have glaucoma but do not know they are afflicted by the disease. This statistic becomes even more alarming when one considers that the best chances for treatment of glaucoma rely on catching the disease in the earlier stages of the condition.
To shed some light on the condition, glaucoma is a progressive disease of the eye. Over time, the pressure inside of the eye increases and causes damage to the optic nerve. It is important to consider that damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible and that there is currently no definitive cure, making early diagnosis and treatment essential. This buildup of pressure can be the result of a number of issues. In fact, there are five distinct types of glaucoma recognized by the medical community. There is primary open-angle wherein drainage channels are blocked causing fluid to build up, angle-closure wherein the eye bulges and narrows or blocks the drainage channel, developmental wherein a child is simply born with abnormally high pressure in the eye, pigmentary wherein pigment granules from the iris block drainage channels, and normal tension wherein the tension in the eye is within a normal range but damage is still occurring to the optic nerve.
Treatments for glaucoma aim to slow the progression of the disease and the most common types of treatment are eye drops, oral medications, and surgery. There are several different types of eye drops, but they all have the same general effect. They work to reduce the production of fluid in the eye and/or reduce pressure within the eye. Oral medications are more commonly used in conjunction with eye drops than alone, but the oral medications prescribed usually help reduce pressure in the eye. Surgical options for glaucoma include laser surgery, drainage implants, and filtering. Most of these options have similar goals as well – they try to open up drainage channels in the eye to alleviate the buildup of pressure.
If you believe that you’re at risk for developing glaucoma, give us a call! We’d be happy to help mitigate the symptoms and progression of the condition.