Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the fluid that runs between space in front of the eye, between the iris and the cornea, does not circulate properly. As the fluid builds up, pressure inside the eye increase and, if left untreated, it can lead to optic nerve damage and loss of sight. Situations differ and not everyone who experiences eye pressure will develop glaucoma, similarly, some people can tolerate higher eye pressure than others.
Some specific groups of people are more at risk of developing glaucoma, this includes African American, Asian, and Hispanic individuals and everyone over the age of 60. Glaucoma is also known to be a hereditary condition and can run in the family.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness if it is left untreated and about 10 percent of people with glaucoma who receive treatment still experience a loss of vision. Around three million people in the country suffer from glaucoma and only about half of those know that they have it. Most people understand what glaucoma is and are aware it exists but some may not know that it actually represents a group of eye diseases, not just one.
Narrow Angle Glaucoma
Narrow angle glaucoma, sometimes referred to as angle-closure glaucoma, accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of glaucoma in the United States according to Harvard Health. This form of glaucoma is particularly tragic as it can come on suddenly and painfully cause vision loss or blindness within hours or days if medical attention is not seeked out. The quick development of the condition is the most worrisome aspect of it.
Some symptoms that occur from angle-closure glaucoma include:
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
As mentioned before, glaucoma is caused by a lack of circulation of the clear, intraocular fluid in the eye, known as aqueous humor. The fluid is meant to deliver nourishment to the lens and cells lining the cornea. For narrow angle glaucoma, the space between the cornea and the iris, known as the anterior chamber, is narrower and more closed than normal. This closure is what causes the fluid circulation to falter.
People who are farsighted are at greater risk of developing the disease as they tend to have a naturally shallow anterior chamber.
Despite, the severity of this condition, it is highly preventable and steps should be taken in order to avoid it. For one, a routine eye exam can detect that closure that occurs in the anterior chamber during narrow angle glaucoma, so simply maintaining frequent care of your eyes can prevent the condition.
Experts recommend that adults should undergo a regular eye exam at least twice in their 20s and 30s, and every two to four years after age 40. It is suggested that eye exams should be taken annually after reaching the age of 60. However, if there is a history of glaucoma in the family, you may want to test them more often.
If the narrow angle structures are noticed during an eye exam, it is sometimes recommended to treat it with laser surgery before the disease has a chance to develop at all. Surgery is used even if the condition has started, surgery is generally successful and long lasting. It should also be noted that not everyone with narrow angles develop angle-closure glaucoma, it just puts you more at risk.
However, it is recommended that if you do have narrow angles in the anterior chamber that eye exams should be done regularly even after surgery.
Other Types of Glaucoma
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the condition. It is caused by the slow clogging of the drainage canals which, in turn, increases eye pressure. It develops slowly as it gradually steals vision and is a lifelong condition. Most people that have the condition feel normal and do not notice a change in their vision at first because the first loss of vision is peripheral.
Normally by the time the disease is noticed it is in an advanced stage. However, the condition responds well to medication, especially if it is caught earlier.
The causes of normal-tension glaucoma is still unknown as the optic nerve is susceptible to damage from the normal amount of eye pressure.
Because so little is known about this form of glaucoma most doctors treat normal-tension glaucoma by reducing the eye pressure to as low as possible using medications, surgery, and laser treatment.
This type of glaucoma is a rare condition that occurs when there is incomplete development in the eye’s drainage canal before birth. This causes increased ocular pressure and leads to optic nerve damage. Symptoms of childhood glaucoma include enlarged eyes, cloudiness in the cornea and sensitivity to light.
Congenital glaucoma is an easy fix and usually uses surgery to correct the structural defects. However, medication may be required in some cases.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the world. It affects around three million people in the country and about half of those people aren’t aware of their condition. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that include open-angle, narrow-angle and normal-tension. Despite the fact that it is not as common as open-angle, narrow-angle glaucoma is especially severe as the symptoms and blindness can occur within only a few days or even hours. At Landmark Senior Living, we give our residents the care and services they deserve to keep them healthy and happy. If you think your loved one should be living an assisted living facility in their later year, please reach out to our admissions staff to learn more about our facilities.