The Silent Thief
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and is referred to as the "silent thief" of sight, because it slowly and without warning steals away vision, sometimes without any symptoms. In fact, more than three million Americans have glaucoma, but only half are actually aware of it.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma destroys the tiny nerve fibers that carry visual information from the back of the eye to the brain. In the past, experts believed high pressure within the eye destroyed these nerve fibers. Now, we know that even patients with normal high pressure can have glaucoma.
While there is currently no cure, the disease can be managed using several effective treatment options.
What are the Two Main Types of Glaucoma?
The two most frequently occurring types are primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma:
- The most common form of glaucoma
- Occurs when the eye's drainage canals are open but have become less efficient, resulting in fluid build-up that increases eye pressure and damages the optic nerve
- Does not cause symptoms and leads to gradual vision loss
- Sometimes occurs when the iris blocks the entrance to the drainage canal, causing eye pressure to build suddenly
- This is an emergency that can lead to blindness if not treated quickly
- More commonly, it occurs when the iris blocks the drainage canal slowly
- Symptoms for both occurrences include severe eye pain, red eye, blurred vision, headache, nausea, and vomiting
The only way to detect glaucoma is to have a comprehensive eye examination.