Glaucoma Specialist in Tallahassee, FL
Glaucoma is an eye condition that can damage your vision, and in many cases, symptoms go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Without treatment, glaucoma can damage more and more fibers in the optic nerve and cause more damage and possibly permanent blindness. There are three major types of glaucoma. Open- angle and closed- angle (or acute) are the two most common types of glaucoma that affect millions of Americans each year. Fortunately, advances in laser technology have made it easier than ever to receive highly effective glaucoma treatment. A routine eye exam is highly recommended to ensure you are taking any necessary steps towards the care of your eyesight. Early detection and treatment by the doctors at Eye Associates of Tallahassee are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and blindness from glaucoma.
Causes of Glaucoma
The cause of glaucoma is unknown, but there are several risk factors that increase your risk of developing glaucoma. These include high eye pressure (called intraocular pressure, or IOP), older age, being African-American or Hispanic, and having a family history of glaucoma. Anyone with any of these risk factors should get regular eye examinations to look for glaucoma. Glaucoma damages vision by destroying the optic nerve, which connects your eye to your brain, and carries visual information to your brain for processing. When the optic nerve is damaged from glaucoma, you lose your vision. Your peripheral vision—or side vision—is lost first. If glaucoma remains untreated, vision loss creeps in toward the center, first causing tunnel vision, and then, eventually, blindness.
Another form of the disease, poorly understood but not uncommon, is low-tension glaucoma. In this form, optic nerve damage occurs even though eye pressure stays within the normal range. Some experts believe that people with low-tension glaucoma may have an abnormally sensitive optic nerve or a reduced blood supply to the optic nerve caused by atherosclerosis — an accumulation of fatty deposits (plaques) in the arteries — or another condition limiting circulation. Under these circumstances, optic nerve damage can occur even with normal pressure.
Open-Angle Glaucoma occurs when the drainage area (where your cornea and iris meet) stays open so fluid can drain, but tiny tubes on the trabecular meshwork do not work properly. Pressure then builds up when the fluid inside the eye is unable to drain. This type of glaucoma is usually painless and damages vision so gradually that you are not aware of trouble until the optic nerve is already injured.
Closed-Angle Glaucoma occurs when the drainage area of the eye suddenly becomes blocked. Unlike open-angle glaucoma, pressure often rises suddenly and damage happens quickly. When eye pressure builds up suddenly, an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack occurs. This type of glaucoma is less common than open-angle and may cause blindness if it is not treated right away.
Pigmentary glaucoma, a type of glaucoma that develops more frequently in young to middle aged men than in women. This is associated with a dispersion of pigment granules within the eye, which then appear to arise from the back of the iris. When the granules accumulate on and in the trabecular meshwork, they can interfere with the outflow of aqueous and cause a rise in pressure. Physical activities, such as jogging, sometimes stir up the pigment granules, depositing them on the trabecular meshwork and causing intermittent pressure elevations. This type of glaucoma can usually be easily diagnosed by your ophthalmologist
This form of secondary open-angle glaucoma occurs when a flaky, dandruff-like material peels off the outer layer of the lens within the eye. The material collects in the angle between the cornea and iris and can clog the drainage system of the eye, causing eye pressure to rise. Pseudoexfoliative glaucoma is common in those of Scandinavian descent. Treatment usually includes medications or surgery.
Injury to the eye may cause secondary open-angle glaucoma. Traumatic glaucoma can occur immediately after the injury or years later. It can be caused by blunt injuries that bruise the eye (called blunt trauma) or by injuries that penetrate the eye. In addition, conditions such as severe nearsightedness, previous injury, infection, or prior surgery may make the eye more vulnerable to a serious eye injury. The abnormal formation of new blood vessels on the iris and over the eye's drainage channels can cause a form of secondary open-angle glaucoma.
Neovascular glaucoma is always associated with other abnormalities, most often diabetes. It never occurs on its own. The new blood vessels block the eye's fluid from exiting through the trabecular meshwork (the eye's drainage canals), causing an increase in eye pressure. This type of glaucoma is very difficult to treat.