Glaucoma damages the optic nerve in the eye and is one of the leading causes of blindness. Approximately 2.7 million Americans aged 40 and older have glaucoma and half of them don’t know they have it. Glaucoma is referred to as the “silent thief of sight” because it develops slowly and can go undetected until it’s too late.
How Does Glaucoma Affect Vision?
The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is often, but not always, caused by increased pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). The higher the IOP, the greater the risk of optic nerve damage.
As glaucoma develops, it can lead to peripheral vision loss, which is being able to see objects outside of your direct line of sight. Over time, losing peripheral vision can get worse and eventually lead to blindness if left untreated. Central vision, the vision used to read, drive or watch TV, is usually unaffected until the disease is advanced.
Impact of Glaucoma on Your Eyesight
Eyesight can be impacted by glaucoma in several ways, including:
- Loss of Peripheral Vision: Loss of peripheral vision, which is unable to see objects on either side of you or in your peripheral vision.
- Reduced Night Vision: Glaucoma can also make it difficult to see in low light such as at night or in dimly lit rooms.
- Tunnel Vision: In severe cases, glaucoma can lead to tunnel vision, which is the loss of peripheral vision in both eyes. This can make it challenging to navigate your surroundings or perform everyday tasks.
Treatment Options for Glaucoma
Unfortunately, the progression of glaucoma is permanent and cannot be reversed. However, proper glaucoma treatment can inhibit further damage. The purpose of these treatments is to lower the pressure in the eyes (IOP) and prevent more damage to the optic nerve. Treatments for glaucoma include:
- Eye Drops: Ophthalmologists or eye doctors typically prescribe this treatment first. The eye drops reduce the eye pressure.
- Laser Surgery: Laser surgery is also used to treat glaucoma. This procedure can lower IOP by improving the fluid drainage in the eye. There are several types of laser surgery available, including trabeculoplasty and iridotomy.
- Microsurgery: Microsurgery or trabeculectomy, involves creating a new drainage channel to lower IOP. This procedure is typically used in more severe glaucoma cases.
Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that healthy adults get a comprehensive eye exam by age 40 to screen for eye diseases. It’s important to have regular eye exams to detect glaucoma early, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma.
For more details or to schedule a visit, please book an appointment with Griffey Eye Care and Laser Center or reach out to us at (757) 410-9500.