Glaucoma is an eye condition that damages the optic nerve, therefore impairing good vision. This damage is often caused by high pressure in the eye. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60, but can occur at any age.
Symptoms of Open-angle glaucoma include:
- Patchy blind spots in the peripheral or central vision of both eyes
- Tunnel vision in the advanced stages
Symptoms of Acute angle-closure glaucoma include:
- severe headache
- eye pain
- nausea and vomiting
- blurred vision
- halos around lights
- eye redness
Glaucoma can eventually cause blindness if it is left untreated. About 15% of people with the condition become blind in at least one eye within 20 years, even if they have undergone treatment.
Glaucoma tends to run in families and does have a genetic component. However, other causes of this eye condition are usually related to increased pressure in the eye. This pressure comes from a buildup of fluid, which regulates itself in a healthy eye by draining out of a tissue called the trabecular meshwork where the iris and cornea meet. However, when this fluid is overproduced or the drainage system doesn’t work properly, the fluid can’t flow out at its normal rate and eye pressure increases.
Glaucoma in children
It’s possible for infants and children to have glaucoma. It may be present from birth or develop in the first few years of life, and the damage to the optic nerve may be caused by drainage blockages or an underlying medical condition.
Regular eye exams are the best way to protect your vision from glaucoma. This way, glaucoma can be caught as early as possible and treated before progressing.
Some people are at a greater risk for developing glaucoma. For instance, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness among African-Americans, as well as Hispanics of older age groups. Siblings of persons diagnosed with glaucoma have a significantly increased risk of developing the condition as well. Diabetics and people who are near-sighted are also at an increased risk.
Help to find a cure
You can take action by donating to The Glaucoma Research Foundation, a national non-profit organization that funds research for cures and treatments of glaucoma.