Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause blindness. If caught early it is very treatable. Often glaucoma has no symptoms, so it is important to have regular eye exams. Glaucoma begins when pressure in the eye builds up, this pressure can damage the optic nerve. The eye is always producing fluid that circulates in the eye. If the drainage channels in the eye become blocked or too much fluid is produced the pressure in the eye can build up. Too much pressure can damage the optic nerve and result in damage to your vision. The optic nerve is the cord that sends messages to the brain so you can see. Anyone can get glaucoma but some people are more likely to get it, risk factors include: family history of glaucoma, age, African ancestry and previous eye injuries or surgery.
There are two main kinds of glaucoma: open angle and closed angle.
Open angle is the most common form of glaucoma. It usually occurs slowly as people age. When the pressure in the eye builds it can cause you loss of peripheral (side) vision. The loss is so gradual that you may not even notice it.
Closed angle is less common. It usually comes on quickly when the drainage channels suddenly become blocked. The eye pressure builds up rapidly and may cause blurred vision and rainbow halos around lights. You may also experience headaches, nausea, vomiting or severe pain. If not treated right away, blindness can occur.
Treatment can prevent or limit vision loss from glaucoma. The goal of treatment is to control by lowering eye pressure. Eye drops usually are the first treatment, some patients though with poor response to drops may need further treatment such as laser or surgery to create new drainage. If you are prescribed eye drops use them as directed. Do not stop taking them even if you have no symptoms, the only way to know if they are working is by regular exams with your doctor.