Glaucoma is the second leading cause of vision loss. It is characterized by increased intraocular pressure (pressure within the eye), that causes damage to the optic nerve and in turn translates to loss of peripheral (side vision).
There are four major types of glaucoma:
- Open angle glaucoma
- Congenital glaucoma
- Glaucoma caused by ocular inflammation
- Angle closure glaucoma
Open angle glaucoma is the most common variant of the disease. At the early stage patients are unaware of the increased eye pressure and associated peripheral vision loss that may result in tunneling of vision an ultimately in blindness. Yearly eye exams are vital in glaucoma detection and treatment. Risk factors for development of glaucoma include:
- Heredity, having siblings or parents diagnosed with glaucoma
- Race, African Americans are in high risk
- Individuals with diabetes and high myopes (severely nearsighted)
Open angle glaucoma is treated with eye drops that decrease the internal eye pressure, laser surgery or in later stages trabeculectomy. All these therapies aim to decrease the pressure on the optic nerve and prevent further vision loss.