Posted by: Georgia Eye Partners in News and Updates

Have you or a family member been diagnosed before with glaucoma? You may be wondering what exactly glaucoma is. Glaucoma is a disease that, if left untreated, can cause progressive vision loss.  It may even lead to blindness.  So it is very important to know what glaucoma is and how to treat it. There are two forms of glaucoma: open angle and narrow angle.  Most people have open angle glaucoma and this does not usually have any symptoms.  That is why it is so dangerous.  Most people don’t realize they have the disease until they have already lost a lot of vision.  At the beginning of the disease, you lose peripheral vision.  We don’t use this vision a lot, so we don’t notice it going.  The vision loss is very gradual until finally you have no peripheral vision at all, and it is like looking through a tunnel.  At the end stages of the disease, you lose central vision.

We each have one nerve in the back of our eye that connects our eyeball to our brain.  This is called the optic nerve and it is like a cable.  It takes all the pictures our eyeball sees and sends them to the brain for processing.  Even if the eyeball is healthy, if this cable structure gets damaged, it will result in vision loss.

Glaucoma usually occurs because of high pressure inside the eye.  However, in some people, it can happen even in the setting of normal eye pressures.  This is called Normal Tension Glaucoma.  Your eye doctor will take a look at your pressures and the back of your eye to determine if you are at risk for glaucoma.

There are some important risk factors for glaucoma.  You are at a higher risk of having the disease: as you get older, if anyone in you family has glaucoma, and based on your race (African Americans, Hispanics, and Indians are more likely to develop glaucoma).  However, lots of people without any of these risk factors develop glaucoma, so it is important to come in for any eye exam.

Once you lose vision from glaucoma, there is nothing your doctor can do to bring it back.  So the key here is prevention!

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