Glaucoma is an eye disorder that commonly arises when pressure inside the eye is above normal (ocular hypertension) and the optic nerve is damaged. The optic nerve is a very important part of your eye, because it is what your body uses to “tell” your brain what you’re seeing. If your optic nerve is compromised, you could lose your peripheral vision and even go blind.
Your eyes make a clear liquid (aqueous humor) to keep them nourished and inflated called aqueous humor. When new aqueous flows into your eye, the old aqueous drains out through the drainage angle. This flow-in-flow-out process stabilizes the pressure within your eye. However, if the drainage angle is not working properly or is blocked in some way, the pressure rises and causes problems, specifically to the optic nerve.
Your optic nerve is at the back of your eye and transmits light information to your brain, which your brain then interprets, allowing you to see. When your optic nerve fibers are exposed to abnormal eye pressure, they can die. As the fibers die, you will develop blind spots. Most of the time, these blind spots go unnoticed until almost all of them are gone. Unfortunately, it is around this time that blindness is just around the corner. When there are no optic nerve fibers left, you will be unable to see.
Also, most patients with glaucoma have elevated eye pressures, but there is a significant portion of glaucoma patients that have normal eye pressures. For whatever reason, the “normal” pressure is too high for these patients.
Here’s a video you can watch to see how glaucoma affects your eyes.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and affects more than 2.7 million people ages 40 and older. Because glaucoma presents very few (if any) initial symptoms, nearly half of those who have glaucoma don’t even know it (American Academy of Ophthalmology).
It’s important to schedule an eye exam with an ophthalmologist every year, especially if you’re over 40, are diabetic, and/or have a family history of glaucoma. Request an appointment with one of our trusted physicians online or by calling 865-579-3920.