What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve — this is the part of the eye that transmits the images we see to the brain. The optic nerve is made up of many fibers, like an electric cable with numerous wires. When damage to these nerve fibers occurs, blind spots can develop. These usually go undetected until there is significant damage to the optic nerve. If the entire nerve is destroyed, the result is blindness.
Early detection by your ophthalmologist is an important way to prevent optic nerve damage and blindness. The doctors at Eye Care Institute in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, CA specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially for older people. However, loss of sight from this disease can often be prevented with early treatment.
Glaucoma is frequently caused by high eye pressure. A clear liquid called aqueous humor circulates inside the front portion of the eye. To maintain a healthy level of pressure within the eye, a small amount of this fluid is produced constantly while an equal amount flows out of the eye through a microscopic drainage system.
Because the eye is a closed structure, if the drainage area for the aqueous humor—called the drainage angle—is blocked, the excess fluid cannot flow out of the eye. Fluid pressure within the eye increases, pushing against the optic nerve and causing damage.
As a rule, damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Eye drops, laser surgery, and surgery in the operating room are used to lower eye pressure and help prevent further damage.
Periodic examinations are very important to prevent vision loss. Because the disease can progress without your knowledge, adjustments to your treatment may be necessary from time to time.