What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an insidious eye disease that is a leading cause of blindness. Chronic glaucoma is especially insidious because in its early stages the symptoms are vague and painless or silent. It can only be diagnosed through an eye pressure test given by an opthalmologist.
There are two kinds of glaucoma. One is acute, or angle closure glaucoma and the other is chronic or open angle glaucoma. In both types of the disease, the fluid that normally drains out of the eye is blocked. This fluid is called the aqueous humor. In acute glaucoma, the blockage happens suddenly and causes great pain. In chronic glaucoma, the condition happens gradually and there’s usually no pain. The build up of fluid in the eyeball causes pressure that leads to loss of peripheral vision. This results in a type of tunnel vision. After this, the person can suffer from blind spots then loss of vision altogether.
Normal pressure in the eye is between 10 and 21mm Hg, but in chronic glaucoma it is between 22 and 40mm Hg. The pressure in acute glaucoma shoots up to above 40mm Hg. Up to 90 percent of all glaucoma sufferers have the chronic kind, and about 25 percent of these cases are undiagnosed. Acute glaucoma is a medical emergency, and if the person suspects that he or she is suffering from it, it’s important to get to an opthalmologist right away.
Glaucoma usually affects adults starting in middle age. The incidence increases as the person gets older. Some medical professionals believe that 10 percent of all people over the age of 70 have glaucoma, whether they know it or not.
Another frustrating thing about glaucoma is that its causes are unknown, though some medical professionals suspect that abnormalities in the collagen in the eye have something to do with it. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and helps support the structures of a person’s eyeball. People might inherit conditions like Marfans syndrome that compromise the integrity of the collagen in their eye. This can lead to the blockage of the fluid and the dangerous increase of pressure in the eyeball.