Glaucoma is a scary word that many people have heard of but not sure what it actually is. So what is it?
The nerve of the eye connects the eye to the brain and glaucoma is a type of disease that affects the nerve of the eye. With glaucoma, the nerve becomes damaged and you start to lose you vision, usually slowly over time. Peripheral vision is lost first and most people do not notice it because we rely on our central vision. As it progresses, central vision becomes affected and that is when most patients notice something is wrong. Unfortunately, glaucoma is irreversible but with early detection and treatment, vision loss can be slowed and even stopped.
What can we do to treat glaucoma? Treatment is directed at one component, the intraocular pressure or the pressure inside the eye. Multiple studies have shown that by lowering the pressure, glaucoma damage can be slowed or halted. We start with intraocular pressure lowering eye drops or a painless laser procedure. If that does not lower the intraocular pressure enough, pills such as acetazolamide can be implemented. The last line of defense are a multitude of different types of surgical options, the two most popular ones being trabeculectomy and tube shunts.
So what can you do to protect yourself against this blinding disease? The most important thing is to get checked at your local optometrist or ophthalmologist!
Gintien Huang, M.D.