Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. This nerve is located in the back of your eye and is responsible for transferring visual information from the retina to the brain, making it integral to your vision. Damage to it can lead to vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma is actually the leading cause of blindness in the United States, but it often shows no signs until it’s progressed to the point of vision impairment. This is why glaucoma screenings are so vital to eye health.
What is glaucoma?
The optic nerve can get damaged by intraocular eye pressure. Fluid normally flows through the eyes to nourish them. These fluids drain at the open angle where the iris and cornea meet, but when draining doesn’t occur properly, pressure can build up in the eye, leading to glaucoma. The two most common types of glaucoma are:
- Open-angle glaucomaAs the name suggests, in this type of glaucoma, the angle at which the fluid drains is usually open, but clogged. The fluid is able to flow, but not quickly enough. It can slowly build up and put pressure on the optic nerve, eventually causing damage.
- Angle-closure glaucomaIn this type of glaucoma, the angle is blocked completely, so the fluid is not able to drain at all and causes an immediate increase in eye pressure. This type usually occurs more suddenly and requires immediate medical attention. If you experience eye pain, a severe headache, and blurred vision, see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Glaucoma screeningAlthough there is no cure for glaucoma, you can lower your risk of developing it, or prevent it from worsening. Regular eye check-ups and taking medication as directed should help.
The only method of diagnosing glaucoma is with a comprehensive eye exam. A glaucoma screening consists of tests to:
- Measure the inner eye pressure
- Check your vision
- Examine the angle where the iris meets the cornea
- Measure the thickness of the cornea
- Check the integrity of the optic nerve
If it has been a while since your last eye appointment, or you have been having trouble with your vision, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor soon.