What Is Glaucoma? Causes And Symptoms


Glaucoma is a degenerative eye condition that can result in blindness. Inside your eye is fluid that circulates and allows your eye to retain its shape, as well as deliver nutrients to the eye tissue. In a normally functioning eye, this fluid flows into the eye and then drains out.

When glaucoma is present, the fluid does not drain properly. The fluid builds up inside the eye and creates pressure within the eye. The resulting pressure often damages the optic nerve, which in turns leads to partial or total blindness.

Causes of Glaucoma

The exact cause of glaucoma is unknown. However, studies have shown that there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of the development of glaucoma:

  • Age – Persons over the age of 40 have a higher incidence of being diagnosed with glaucoma.
  • Ancestry – Glaucoma sometimes runs in the family, and can increase risk up to 50%.
  • Race – African Americans are up to four times more likely to develop glaucoma than any other race.
  • Secondary Health Conditions – Those who have diabetes have a three times higher risk than non-diabetics.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Early symptoms of glaucoma are often either non-existent or imperceptible to the individual. For that reason, and because age is a risk factor, persons over the age of 40 are encouraged to visit an optometrist on a regular basis to check for signs of glaucoma.

More advanced symptoms of glaucoma include:

  • Pain in one or both eyes
  • Blind spots consisting of blurred areas in vision or black dots in vision field
  • Cloudy look to the eyes
  • Chronic headaches
  • Light sensitivity
  • Smaller vision field similar to "looking through binoculars"
  • Decreased night vision

Diagnosis of Glaucoma

One common diagnostic test for glaucoma is the pressure test conducted with a tonometry machine. This test measures the pressure in the eye using a small blast of air directed at the eye. Further tests would be warranted if pressure was gauged to be higher than normal. Only a doctor can properly diagnose glaucoma, using specialized medical equipment. Just because you don't exhibit recognizable symptoms at home doesn't mean you couldn't have early glaucoma.

Treatment of Glaucoma

Drugs, surgery and in extreme cases, implants, make up the usual treatment options for glaucoma. Unfortunately, there is no permanent solution or cure for glaucoma. A diagnosis usually means you will have to treat it continually for the remainder of your life.

The best way to ensure that you have the best possible outcome for the condition of glaucoma is to get regular eye exams and to follow the advice of your optometrist.


1 March 2015

Vision and Learning

Vision problems can be sneaky. When my daughter started having trouble in school, nobody thought that the problem could be with her vision. She wasn't complaining about not being able to see ; she was acting out instead. Plus, she could read the eye chart. It took a lot of trial and error to realize that while she could see, her eyes weren't working together correctly. She needed vision therapy to get herself back on track. I started this blog to share information with other concerned parents about how vision affects learning. Don't let a vision problem sneak by you and impact your child's education.