What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma may be a disease of the major nerve of vision, named the nervus opticus. The nervus opticus gets light-generated nerve impulses from our retina and transmits these directly to the brain, where those electrical signals are recognized as vision. Glaucoma is described by a specific model of progressive damage to the nervus opticus that generally commences with a slight loss of side vision (peripheral vision). If glaucoma is not detected and treated, it can reach a complete loss of sight and blindness.
Glaucoma is basically, but not always, related to increased pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure). In general, it is this raised eye pressure that results in damage to the optic nerve. In some cases, this glaucoma may appear within the presence of regular eye pressure. This sort of glaucoma is thought to be caused by poor circulation of blood to the nervus opticus.
The raised pressure in your eye can injure your nervus opticus, which sends signals to your brain. If the injury worsens, glaucoma can cause complete visual loss or maybe total blindness within some years.
How Common is Glaucoma?
Globally, glaucoma is the second leading explanation for irretrievable blindness. As many as 6 million people are blind in both eyes from this defect. Within the United States alone, over 3 million people have glaucoma. As many as half of these glaucoma victims might not know that they have the defect. The reason these victims are unaware of the presence of this condition is that glaucoma initially shows no symptoms, and therefore the succeeding loss of side vision (peripheral vision) is often not recognized.
The fluid inside our eye, known as aqueous humor, usually drains out of our eye through a mesh-like channel. If the channel gets blocked or producing an excessive amount of fluid, the liquid piles up. Most times, experts don’t know what causes this blockage. But it is often hereditary, meaning it’s passed on from parents down to their generation.
Raised pressure within the eye is that the major factor resulting in glaucomatous injury to the optic nerve. The nervus opticus, which is located within the back of the focus, is the main visual nerve for the vision. This nerve conveys the images we see back to our brain for interpretation. The focus is firm and round, sort of a basketball. Its shape and tone are maintained by a pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure), which normally varies between 8 mm and 22 mm of mercury. When the pressure is very low, the eye becomes softer, while raised pressure causes the eye to become harder. The nervus opticus is the most vulnerable part of the eye to high pressure because the fragile fibers within this nerve are easily damaged either by decreased blood flow to the nerve or direct pressure on the nerve.
The front of the eye is crammed with a transparent fluid known as the aqueous humor, which nourishes the eye. This fluid is produced constantly from the membrane, which surrounds the lens of the eyes. The aqueous humor flows through the pupil and leaves the eye with tiny drainage channels called the trabecular meshwork. These channels are found at the drainage angle of the eye. This angle is the place where the clear cornea, covering the front of the eye, attaches to the origin (root or periphery) of the iris, which is the colored region of the eye. The cornea covers the iris and also the pupil, which are before the lens. The pupil is the minute, round, black-appearing hole within the center of the iris. The light goes through the pupil, also through the lens, and to the retina at the rear end of the eye.
The Mechanism of Action
In many people, the drainage angles are very wide open, but in others, they will be narrow. For instance, the normal angle is about 45 degrees, whereas a shallow-angle is about 25 degrees or less. After leaving through the trabecular meshwork within the angle, the aqueous fluid will then drains into tiny capillaries into the bloodstream. The aqueous humor should never be confused with tears, which are produced from the lacrimal glands just under the upper eyelid outside of the eyeball itself.
This process of removing and producing the fluid from the eye is analogous thereto of a sink with its tap always turned on, creating and draining the water. If the sink’s drain gets clogged, the water may spill over. If the sink were a closed system, as it is in the eye, and unable to overflow, the pressure in the sink would increase. Likewise, if your eye’s trabecular meshwork becomes blocked, the pressure may become raised. Also, if the sink’s faucet is too high, the water may spill over. Again, if the sink were a closed one, the pressure in it would increase. Likewise, if an extreme amount of fluid is being created within the eye, the pressure may go too high. In either event, since the eye may be a closed system, if it cannot adequately get rid of the excess fluid, the pressure piles up, and damage to the optic nerve may result.
Types of Glaucoma
Let’s go through the following types of glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most-occurring sort of defect. The drainage angle produced by the iris and cornea remains open, but the trabecular meshwork remains partially blocked. This health condition of the eye causes the pressure in the eye to slowly increase. This pressure injures the nervus opticus. It happens so gradually that you simply may lose visual sight before you are even conscious of a drag.
Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as closed-angle glaucoma, occurs when one’s iris bulges forward to narrow down or block the drainage angle created by the cornea and iris. Because of this, fluid cannot circulate through the eye, and pressure will increase. Some folks have narrow drainage angles, putting them at high risk of acute glaucoma.
Angle-closure glaucoma may appear gradually (chronic angle-closure glaucoma) or suddenly (acute angle-closure glaucoma). Acute glaucoma may be a medical emergency.
In normal-tension glaucoma, one’s nervus opticus becomes damaged even though the eye pressure is within the normal scale. Nobody knows the actual reason for this. One will have a sensitive nervus opticus; otherwise, it may have less blood being transported to the nervus opticus. This limited blood circulation might be caused by atherosclerosis — the accumulation of fatty deposits (plaque) in the arteries — or other factors that obstruct circulation.
Glaucoma in Infants
Children and youngsters can have glaucoma. It will be present from birth or may develop in the first few years of life. The optic nerve damage could also be fostered by drainage obstruction or an underlying medical defect.
In pigmentary glaucoma, granules of pigment from your iris pile up within the drainage channels, blocking or slowing fluid exiting your eye. Exercise like jogging sometimes increases these granules, depositing them on the trabecular meshwork and thus causing sporadic pressure elevations.
These self-care procedures can help you detect glaucoma in its early stages, which is pertinent in preventing visual loss or slowing its process.
Get Regular Dilated Eye Examinations
Regular eye examinations can help detect glaucoma from its early stages before major damage occurs. As a universal rule, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests having a concise eye examination every 5 to 10 years if one is under 40 years old; every 2 to 4 years if one is 40 to 54 years old; every 3 years if one is 55 to 64 years old; and each 1 to 2 years if one is younger than 65. If one is in danger of glaucoma, more frequent screening is required. Tell your doctor to recommend the proper exam schedule for you.
Know Your Family’s Eye Health History
Glaucoma tends to run in some linage or families. If you are at high risk, you will need more frequent examination.
Regular but moderate exercise may help stop glaucoma by lowering eye pressure. Talk extensively with your doctor about an appropriate exercise schedule.
Take Prescribed Eye Drops Regularly
Glaucoma eye drops can help reduce the danger of high eye pressure leading to glaucoma. To be very effective, eye drops recommended by your doctor should be used often even though you have no shown the symptoms.
Wear Eye Protection
Serious eye damages can cause glaucoma. Always put on eye protection when working with power tools or playing racket sports in an enclosed court.