What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries the images we see to the brain. It is like an electric cable containing about 1.2 million wires. Glaucoma can damage the nerve fibers, causing blind spots to develop. Many people know that glaucoma has something to do with pressure inside the eye – intraocular pressure (IOP). Pressure builds up in the eye when the clear liquid (the aqueous humour), which normally flows in and out of the eye, is prevented from draining properly. This can happen in different ways, depending on the type of glaucoma. The resulting increase in pressure within the eye can damage the optic nerve.
What causes Glaucoma?
Ophthalmologists used to think that high intraocular pressure was the main cause of optic nerve damage in glaucoma, but we now know that even people with “normal” IOP can experience vision loss from glaucoma (“normal tension glaucoma”). Some people with high intraocular pressure never develop the optic nerve damage of glaucoma, but they need to be followed carefully by an ophthalmologist, as they are considered “glaucoma suspects”.
Elevated IOP is still considered a major risk factor for glaucoma, though, because studies have shown that the higher the IOP is, the more likely optic nerve damage is to occur.
Clinically, many people with glaucoma have no symptoms. Because the visual loss is very slow, they are often unaware of their decreasing field of vision. Glaucoma usually affects both eyes. Occasionally, if the eye pressure is high enough, the person may feel discomfort or pain in their eye(s). The eyes may become bloodshot during this period. Glaucoma Risk Factors
- Old age (prevalence increases rapidly in those 40 years old)
- Blood relative with glaucoma
- Nearsightedness (myopia)
- High blood pressure
Our practice is fully equipped with the very latest instrumentation to detect glaucoma at the earliest possible stage. We also have a visual fields machine that will enable us to detect early field loss induced by glaucoma. Our practitioners will examine the back of your eyes. And measuring eye pressure is a standard test in our practice once you are over 40. We can perform this in a number of ways – with your comfort in mind.