What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma affects the optic nerve, which processes the nerve impulses focused in the inner surface of the eye. They carry nerve fibers that connect directly to the brain and enable people to form a visual image. The optic nerve has over two million nerve fibers and glaucoma damages these nerve fibers, which can result in partial or complete loss of vision that progresses at varying rates.
What are Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on the type of glaucoma the patient suffers from. In the early stages of glaucoma there are typically no symptoms present, although as the disease progresses, symptoms such as patchy loss of vision, headaches, and in more severe cases, nausea, vomiting associated with severe eye pain and acute visual loss can occur.
Types of Glaucoma
While there are many different types of glaucoma the most common type is Open-Angle Glaucoma. Patients typically are found to have elevated intraocular pressure on routine eye exams, which is common across all types of glaucoma. With Open-Angle Glaucoma the drainage channels in the eye are open to examination, but found to be microscopically blocked, causing a backup of pressure in the eye.
Angle-Closure Glaucoma is the second most type of glaucoma. Two subtypes of this are Acute Glaucoma and Chronic Glaucoma. The drainage channels in the eye get blocked due to anatomical abnormalities, which can cause intraocular eye pressure to rapidly rise. This is associated with eye pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and is a true ocular emergency. Other types of glaucoma treated by Lawrence R. Goldberg, M.D. include Normal-Tension Glaucoma, Pseudoexfoliation Glaucoma, Pigmentary Glaucoma, Plateau Iris Glaucoma, Congenital Glaucoma and Secondary Glaucoma.
Common Causes of Glaucoma
No specific cause for glaucoma has been identified, although genetic predisposition, anatomical considerations and age related developmental processes are implicated as contributing factors for the development of glaucoma. Ongoing research is delving into biochemical reasons that may lead to novel treatments for glaucoma.
Treatment for Glaucoma
Medications have been the mainstay of treatment for glaucoma for the past forty to fifty years. They are associated with side effects, systemically and on the ocular surface, so that new modalities are able to be used to bypass these issues. Various laser eye surgery procedures can be used as a first line of glaucoma treatment. Also, newer and safer surgical procedures and devices have been developed to better treat glaucoma, resulting in lower probability of visual loss.