There are a lot of conditions that can affect your vision, but glaucoma is an illness you may not even know you have. An estimated 3 million Americans, many undiagnosed, struggle with this condition. It is the leading cause of blindness, even after treatment.
Getting ahead of something as dangerous as glaucoma means understanding what your treatment options are once you’ve been diagnosed with it. To better understand all of this, let’s examine what causes glaucoma, how it affects your vision, and what methods there are for managing this illness.
If you live in the Pelham Gardens area of the Bronx in New York and you’re struggling with glaucoma or other vision impairments, the team of specialists at Bronx Eye Associates can help.
Causes of glaucoma
Your optic nerve sends visual information from your eyes to your brain to process what you’re looking at. Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve, often over a gradual period of time.
Several factors can lead to glaucoma, including high internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure), medical conditions that can damage your eyes (diabetes, sickle cell anemia, hypertension), corneas that are thin at the center, corticosteroid eye drops, or family history.
Certain ethnicities are at higher risk, such as Black, Asian, or Hispanic people, and the risk increases as you get older.
How it affects your vision
There are several types of glaucoma, but in most cases, the condition starts with fluid buildup in the front of your eye, which puts pressure on your optic nerve (the intraocular pressure mentioned earlier). The pressure affects the flow of fluid called the aqueous humor that nourishes your eye.
In healthy eyes, this fluid leaves your eye through drainage canals between your iris and cornea. Glaucoma causes increased pressure in the canals, blocking them and causing a buildup in your eyes.
The combined blockage and pressure damage the optic nerve enough to cause eye pain, eye pressure, headaches, lights showing rainbow-colored halos, vision problems, blind spots, red eyes, and even nausea and vomiting. Left untreated or treated improperly, glaucoma damages the optic nerve causing blindness.
Methods of treatment
Treatment for glaucoma depends on the severity of the condition. Different prescription eye drops are a common first step for mild to moderate glaucoma. These are also available in pill form, but drops are more common. In situations where eye drops are not improving vision, laser therapy or surgery can reduce the amount of fluid.
Laser therapy can help improve fluid drainage and sometimes replace eye drops. The timeframe of its effectiveness can vary, but laser therapy can give you years of improved vision. Surgical methods can slow down vision loss. There are minimally invasive surgical methods depending on the type and severity of your condition.
Glaucoma isn’t curable, but we can help manage and stop it from getting worse. If you’re dealing with vision problems related to glaucoma or other conditions, make an appointment with the team of doctors at Bronx Eye Associates today.