Glaucoma is a disease of the eyes that leads to loss of vision if it is not detected and treated in time. Pressure buildup in the eye results in damage to the optic nerve. As the nerve damage progresses, blind spots in the visual field will develop and will eventually lead to total blindness without proper intervention. It is through the optic nerve that signals are transmitted from the eye to the brain.
A fluid called aqueous humor flows throughout each eye. Normally, the fluid drains into an anterior chamber at the front of the eye through tissue known as the trabecular meshwork. It drains from a place where the iris and cornea meet. If this drainage system becomes blocked or otherwise does not function properly, pressure will build up. This can also happen if the eye is producing more fluid than it should.
The most common form of the condition is known as open-angle glaucoma. This occurs when the angle between the iris and cornea remains open as it should, but the fluid does not drain properly because the trabecular meshwork is preventing drainage as a result of being partly blocked. This can happen so slowly that vision can be lost before the person realizes there is a problem.
Closed-angle glaucoma, also known as angle-closure glaucoma, happens when the iris bulges forward and blocks the drainage angle formed by the iris and cornea. This prevents the fluid from circulating as it should, and the result is the buildup of pressure.
Regardless of the type of glaucoma, the end result is the damage to the optic nerve that the excess pressure causes. However, closed-angle glaucoma can be chronic or acute, meaning it can happen over time or suddenly. Acute glaucoma is a medical emergency that must be treated at once. It can be triggered by a sudden dilation of the pupils.
A type of the disease called pigmentary glaucoma happens when pigment granules from the iris build up and prevent proper fluid drainage because they block the trabecular meshwork. Jogging or similar activities can trigger this.
Heredity is one of the leading causes of glaucoma. Therefore, people with a family history of the disease should have eye exams more frequently, especially after age 40. Trauma to one or both eyes puts a person at a higher risk of developing the disease, and people with diabetes also have a greater likelihood of getting it.
Most people with glaucoma had few or no symptoms until the disease was in its later stages, in which case the loss of side vision was noticed. For this reason, regular eye exams at Wichita Vision Institute are vital for early detection. Our office is conveniently located in Wichita, Kansas. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.