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- What is Glaucoma?
- Symptoms of Glaucoma
- What Causes Glaucoma
- How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
- Help for Glaucoma
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma actually refers to a group of diseases that lead to vision loss and, ultimately, blindness through progressive damage to the optic nerve. There are four primary types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma, primary congenital glaucoma, primary angle-closure glaucoma, and pseudoexfoliation glaucoma. Although anyone can get glaucoma, genetics are said to play a key role in all major forms of the condition.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
The two primary types of glaucoma have different symptoms. Primary open-angle glaucoma symptoms include gradual loss of peripheral vision in both eyes and tunnel vision. Symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma include eye pain, visual disturbances that are sudden, particularly in low light, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting with severe eye pain, reddening of the eyes and halos around lights.
There are few warning signs for open-angle glaucoma and regular eye exams are the key to early detection and preventing further progression.
What Causes Glaucoma
Glaucoma is characterized by a failure to maintain the correct balance between the internal fluid produced by the eye and the amount that drains away. This causes increased pressure that builds continuously, pushing against the optic nerve until the fibers become permanently damaged and vision is eventually lost. The underlying reason for the pressure buildup depends on the type of glaucoma you have. When something affects the ability of the inner eye structure to regulate intraocular pressure, glaucoma results.
Glaucoma is up to eight times more common in African-Americans than in Caucasians. Those who are over 60 are also at increased risk for developing glaucoma as are those with chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and hypothyroidism.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
Glaucoma is diagnosed by a series of simple tests and eye examinations. The pupils of the eyes are dilated, allowing for a view of the optic nerve. The Optometrist will also perform a procedure called Tonometry that checks for eye pressure. A visual field test will also be performed to determine if there is a loss of peripheral vision.
Help for Glaucoma
Glaucoma can be treated with laser surgery, traditional surgery and medication including eye drops and pills to decrease the amount of fluid produced by the eye. The primary objective of treatment is to prevent further vision loss since vision loss due to glaucoma is irreversible. Glaucoma can be managed when it is detected and treated early. Most people with glaucoma who are treated in a timely manner will not lose their vision.
There are also natural herbal remedies that can be used to support clear vision and improve eye health. Rooibos helps neutralize free radicals that can damage the retina. Its high mineral content helps prevent age related macular degeneration and vision loss. Bilberry has been shown to improve night vision and was a favorite of pilots in Britain's Royal Air Force during World War II. Its naturally occurring antioxidants perform many important actions for eye health.