Common Vision Conditions: Glaucoma
Glaucoma is generally thought of as a disease whereby the pressure of the fluid inside your eye rises to the point of causing damage to your Optic Nerve. Inside your eye, there is always a fluid being produced to bathe the eye tissue with new nutrients. Then this fluid cycles out and new fluid is secreted back into the eye chamber to replace it.
In cases of Glaucoma, sometimes the structures in the front part of the eye are just inherited with more crowding to some of these areas and a tightening of the “French Drains” – even though the fluid is still being produced, it cannot drain out as fast as it should. Your Eye doctor may even educate you to this possibility if you are a person with so called “Narrow Angles” and may be more prone to an acute attack of glaucoma.
The more frequent type of Glaucoma that attacks people is much more sneaky. A significant number of patients with Glaucoma have Intra-Ocular Pressure that tests in what is generally considered to be in the “Normal” Range of 15 -20 units of measure. But for those people, this is enough pressure to cause their more sensitive optic nerve to degenerate.
Fortunately we have between 1.3-1.4 million nerves going out the back of each eye in the form of the Optic nerve – that is really a 4.5mm cable composed of those millions of nerves going to your brain. It is generally thought that we can lose about 1/4th of the neurons before we can detect a change in our vision.
With every part of the optic nerve bundle that gets affected by the pressure, there is a corresponding loss of the patient’s visual field. As the syndrome progresses, the visual field can make walking more difficult as objects in your pathway may be hidden by a blindspot in your vision. Left untreated, the patient loses all peripheral vision leading to only tunnel-vision, and eventually blindness.
To make it more mysterious, there are a number of people that consistently measure a high Intra-Ocular –Pressure and never go on to develop the characteristics of Glaucoma! These patients are classified as “Ocular Hypertensive”.
Treatment either involves drops to help open the eye chamber angles – to relax open the “French Drains”. Sometimes surgery may be necessary to relieve some of the pressure in the eye. Patients often prefer surgery as now laser precision is employed by the surgeon.
As difficult as it is to imagine, the eyedrops patients use to treat the pressure in their eye for Glaucoma can carry side-effects that cause heart, lung, and kidney damage. That’s why Early Detection can lead to the most mild interventions to correct the pressure.
To detect these mild changes in the Intra-Ocular pressure, your Visual Field, and the health of your Optic Nerve, rely on the technology and training of your Doctors and Staff at Brookside Optometric Group.