Dr. Jim Martin 01/21/2015

elderly-woman-wheelchair-concierge-medicine.jpgSight is one of our most precious gifts. Being able to see family and friends, the sky on a clear day, bolts of lightning during a storm or your favorite show are are all parts of experiencing life. Over 2.7 million people over the age of 40 in the United States, do not take their eyesight  for granted. The folks in this demographic have glaucoma, which is stealing their sight. As January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, let’s take a closer look at this disease.

Understanding Glaucoma

More than just one thing, glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve, causing a loss of vision or blindness. When light enters the eye, it goes through the cornea, pupil and lens back to the rods and cones located in the retina, where information is sent through the optic nerve to the brain. Glaucoma is a disease that damages the nerve so information cannot be sent to the brain. There are several types of glaucoma:

  • Open-Angle Glaucoma: There is a pocket in the eye, known as the anterior chamber, where fluid continuously flows, lubricating the tissue of the eye. Fluid normally leaves the eye through meshwork at the angle where the cornea and iris meet. If the fluid leaves too slowly, there is an increase in pressure, which can damage the optic nerve. 

  • Low-Tension Glaucoma: It is possible for those without high pressure to develop glaucoma. Normal pressure or low pressure, as in low blood pressure, can result in glaucoma.

  • Angle-Closure Glaucoma: This type is often painful and sudden. In these cases, the angle for drainage becomes blocked and the pressure suddenly builds in the eye. This is a medical emergency and can lead to sudden blindness.

  • Congenital Glaucoma: These are cases where children are born with a defect to the angle where the cornea and iris meet.

  • Secondary Glaucoma: Due to the effect of some medications, medical procedures, or trauma; complications can arise and result in a building of eye pressure.

  • Pigmentary Glaucoma: Pigment from the iris can shed and block the open angle, causing the flow of fluid to decrease.

Treating Glaucoma

There is no cure for glaucoma. The best treatment is to catch the disease early and prevent any damage to the optic nerve. Treatments include:

  • Medicine

  • Laser Surgery

  • Conventional Surgery

Many forms of glaucoma do not produce symptoms until late in the disease process.   Therefore, meeting with your eye doctor is of the utmost importance. For 2015, make the resolution to spread the word about glaucoma.

This January, make an appointment for you and your family at Broome Optical for a comprehensive eye exam, because Life is Worth Seeing.

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