Glaucoma is a complicated disease in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss and is the second leading cause of blindness.
The most common form of glaucoma occurs when the eye’s drainage canals become clogged over time. The inner eye pressure, also called intraocular pressure, or IOP, rises because the correct amount of fluid can’t drain out of the eye. With this most common form, the entrances to the drainage canals are clear, and should be working correctly. However, the clogging problem occurs further inside the drainage canals (similar to a clogged pipe below the drain of a sink).
Other forms of glaucoma that are less common include severe infection, trauma or injury, inflammatory conditions, other types of eye surgery, or a blocked blood vessel.
Most people have no symptoms and no early warning signs. If open-angle glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated, it can cause a gradual loss of vision. This type develops slowly and sometimes without visible sight loss for many years. It usually responds well to medication, especially if caught early and treated.
People with glaucoma rarely experience symptoms, but each day, their vision becomes less and less clear. For this reason, routine eye examinations are more important than ever to help identify symptoms. Your eye doctor can detect elevated pressure within the eye, which can cause damage to the optic nerve that carries images to the brain. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness.
While anyone can develop glaucoma, a higher risk is associated due to family medical history, individuals over 40 years of age, diabetics, individuals of African or Mediterranean descent, as well as those who have experienced an eye injury or trauma.
Dr. Baalman may become suspicious of glaucoma during this exam and order special tests to help in making the diagnosis of glaucoma. From there, the best treatment option will be decided.