Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye and causes optic nerve damage. The condition is often hereditary and is more prevalent among older adults. Untreated, glaucoma will progress over time. When intraocular pressure becomes abnormally high, the resulting nerve damage prohibits the transmission of visual signals from the eye to the brain. Undiagnosed, glaucoma can lead to vision loss and at its worst, blindness. Typically, pressure increases because the fluid inside the eye is not flowing properly. Blockages in the mesh-like channel, called the aqueous humor, can cause a pressure build up. Exactly why a blockage occurs is usually not known.
There are two types of glaucoma. These are:
Ophthalmologists commonly check patients’ intraocular pressure during annual eye exams. This test is known as a tonometry. It is most often conducted using equipment that measures pressure by blowing a puff of air into the patient’s eye. Another testing method uses special instruments that depress or flatten the cornea. Patients are provided numbing drops when instruments are used.
There are three treatments that ophthalmologists typically use to treat glaucoma: eye drops, microsurgery, and laser surgery. Drops minimize the accumulation of fluid in the front section of the individual’s eye, or increase the eye’s ability to circulate fluid so that it flows out. Laser surgery is performed to increase the outflow of eye fluid, or to repair a blockage. Microsurgery is used to create an additional channel for fluid drainage. Another surgical option is to attach glaucoma implants.
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