What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can deteriorate the eye’s optic nerve resulting in vision loss and blindness. It is the second-leading cause of blindness in the U.S. Usually, glaucoma occurs when the fluid inside the eyes are abnormally high. As the fluid builds up, the pressure inside the eye rises to a level that is damaging to the optic nerve. Initially, glaucoma affects peripheral or side vision, but central vision will be affected as the disease advances. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to severe vision loss and blindness.
What is the optic nerve?
The optic nerve carries more than 1 million nerve fibers that connects from the back of your eye to the brain. The retina is the light-sensitive nerve tissue at the back of the eye, which transmits light into electrochemical signals allowing vision to take place. A healthy optic nerve is essential for good vision.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma is detected through a comprehensive eye exam that includes the following tests
Visual acuity. The eye chart detects how well you at various distances.
Visual field testing. This measures the extent of your field of view, especially your peripheral (side) vision.
Tonoemtry detects the fluid pressure inside the eyes to screen for glaucoma.
Pachymetry refers to the thickness of the cornea. Thinner corneas are at a higher risk.
Dilated eye exam allows the doctor to evaluate the back of the eye for signs of damage and other eye problems.
Additional diagnostic testing may include photographs and computerized scans of the optic nerve, to monitor any anatomical changes over time.
What are the different types of glaucoma?
The most common form of glaucoma, open angle glaucoma, is a chronic condition that develops slowly and usually without any symptoms. Many people are not aware they have the condition until the disease is very advanced where there is significant vision loss, hence the name “silent thief of sight”.
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