What is Glaucoma Awareness? Glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable blindness. Each January we celebrate National Awareness of Glaucoma highlighting how blindness from glaucoma can be prevented with education and glaucoma awareness.
Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve. The damage is often caused by abnormally high pressure in the eye that gradually damages the optic nerve. The damage can be so gradual that the change in vision is not noticed until the glaucoma is at an advanced stage.
Vision loss caused by damage to the optic nerve cannot be recovered. The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers and those fibers transmit the electrical impulses from the eyes to other areas and eventually to the visual cortex in the brain where the impulses are processed.
The visual cortex has six layers and within those layers depth perception, form, color and motion are all processed.
Types of Glaucoma
This is the most common type of glaucoma and it is caused by fluid buildup in the eye that elevates eye pressure. This fluid called aqueous humor flows throughout the inside of the eye and normally drains out through an area called the trabecular meshwork. The trabecular meshwork is located at the angle where the iris and cornea meet.
This is also called closed-angle glaucoma and it occurs when the iris bulges forward and narrows or blocks the drainage angle. This type of glaucoma may occur gradually (chronic angle-closure glaucoma) or suddenly (acute angle-closure glaucoma). If the onset is sudden it is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately.
Symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma are:
- Severe headache
- Eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Eye redness
In this type of glaucoma the optic nerve becomes damaged even when the eye pressure is within the normal range. The reason for this is unknown. It could be a sensitive optic nerve or a lack of blood flow to the optic nerve.
Pigment granules from the iris collect and build up in the drainage channels which slows or blocks fluid from draining from the eyes.
Glaucoma in children
It is possible for children to develop glaucoma. It may be present from birth or develop in the firs few years of life. It may be caused by drainage blockages or an underlying medical condition.
Glaucoma Awareness and Detection
The only way to detect glaucoma in its early stages is a comprehensive dilated eye examination.