The medical term for a wide range of conditions causing high pressure in the eye is glaucoma. Untreated, the pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve and eventually result in vision loss or even blindness. Two of the most common types of glaucoma are primary open angle and primary angle closure. In some cases, prescription eye drops can be used to help the fluid in the eye to drain and decrease pressure in the eye.
How Glaucoma Develops
The eye has fluid continuously flowing through it, and that helps maintain the shape. If the amount of fluid decreases, the eye may start to harden. Too little fluid can cause it to soften. The aqueous humor is the fluid that determines the eye’s shape, and when it becomes obstructed, there is a build-up of pressure inside the eye.
There are several types of glaucoma. One is primary open angle glaucoma that slowly develops when the drainage is blocked in the channels. It is also known as chronic simple glaucoma. Another is primary angle closure glaucoma that is a rapidly developing form of the condition. Also known as acute glaucoma, this happens when the flow of fluid is not able to move through the area around and in the pupil. These are the two main types of glaucoma, but there are others that are not quite as common.
Open Angle Glaucoma
Angle Closure Glaucoma
The symptoms of glaucoma are determined by what types of the condition you may have. If your peripheral vision decreases, you may have primary open angle glaucoma. You are not likely to feel pain, so medical professionals generally screen for it during an eye examination. Most people with this form of glaucoma are over 40, and if left untreated, it may cause you to go blind.
Diagnosing and Treating Glaucoma
If you have glaucoma, you will want to be treated by an eye specialist called an ophthalmologist. This person will conduct more exams to determine what type of glaucoma you have and tailor the treatment to your condition. Treatment is likely to be drops, carbonic anhydrase inhibitor tablets, and laser treatment or surgery if the specialist thinks it is appropriate. Drugs that treat all types of glaucoma can be expensive, so consult your insurance company and discuss all the options with your medical professional. You may also qualify for free or reduced-cost medications from the pharmaceutical company.
Since some types of glaucoma cannot be prevented, the best course of action is diagnosis and treatment at the onset. Your main goal is to prevent a loss of vision. In addition to being at higher risk if you are over 40, genetics may play a role.
People who have glaucoma can manage the condition if they have early detection and start using medications and drops designed to halt the disease’s progress. It is essential to have frequent appointments with the ophthalmologist. If you have glaucoma, let your family know so they can have an early screening.
Glaucoma Medication Side Effects
As with all medications, those used to treat glaucoma have some risk of side effects. Although the risk is low, alert your doctor if you experience blurred vision, redness around the eye, burning, itching, or fatigue. Have frequent medical checkups to monitor your blood pressure and pulse rate.