We humans have five senses: The abilities to taste, smell, hear, touch and see. For those suffering from glaucoma, their sense of sight can be compromised.
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, so we’re shining a light on this disease, which plagues more than three million people in the United States.
If you’re unfamiliar with glaucoma, it’s a complicated disease that causes an increased amount of pressure within the eyeball, leading to a gradual loss of sight.
Glaucoma is commonly referred to as “the sneak thief of sight” because there are no apparent symptoms for this condition. In fact, as much as 40 percent of vision can be lost without a person noticing.
People of all ages can be affected; however, the most common form of glaucoma primarily affects the middle-aged and elderly.
There are two main types: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma – This is the most common type of glaucoma. In the early stages of POAG, there are no warning signs such as pain in the eye or even changes in vision that could hint that something is wrong. Because of this sly behavior, the effects can be devastating when sudden vision loss is a result. In this form of glaucoma, there’s an imbalance in the production as well as the drainage of the clear fluid that fills the eye’s anterior chamber – the part of the eye located behind the cornea and in front of the iris and lens. There are two potential results: There is too much of that clear fluid produced, or the drainage pathway where the fluid exits the eye becomes blocked. Both instances cause pressure in the eye.
Angle-closure glaucoma – Otherwise known as acute or narrow-angle glaucoma, this is a rarer form of the condition. With angle-closure glaucoma, the iris isn’t as wide as it should be and the outer edge of the iris begins to collect over the drainage canals. This causes the pupil to enlarge at a rapid rate. As opposed to POAG, there are symptoms that you may be experiencing angle-closure glaucoma; blurred vision, eye pain, headaches, nausea and rainbows around lights at night are all potential warning signs.
Routine eye exams are essential in making sure that you’re not developing glaucoma or other eye-related conditions. At the St. Barnabas Medical Center, we have a number of on-site specialists – including optometrists – to provide the 35,000 patients that we serve every year with the best, most thorough care.
If you’d like to talk with a professional, give the St. Barnabas Medical Center a call at (724) 443-7231 or email St. Barnabas Medical Center.
Check back in the coming weeks to learn more about the viable treatment options available for glaucoma.