Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, especially among older patients. The optic nerve carries the images that we see to the brain. The optic nerve is like an electric cable containing a huge number of “wires” or vision nerve fibers. A buildup of pressure within the eye from glaucoma can damage these delicate vision fibers, causing blind spots to develop. The good news is that sight loss from glaucoma can usually be prevented with early detection and treatment by Dr. Fox.
Glaucoma is an imbalance between the amount of internal fluid continually produced within the eye and the amount of this fluid that is reabsorbed within the eye. This clear liquid is called “aqueous humor” and is not part of the tears on the surface of the eye. It is actually inside the eye. The inflow of the aqueous fluid is like a sink with a faucet that is always running. If the aqueous fluid is made too quickly or the drainage mechanism within the eye is clogged or blocked, the fluid pressure rises within the eye. It is this elevated pressure which damages the optic nerve and can cause gradual blindness.
Those at a higher risk for glaucoma include African Americans, senior citizens, diabetics, people with a family history of glaucoma and those using corticosteroids medications. Testing for glaucoma is performed on nearly every patient examined by Dr. Fox. If detected, treating glaucoma is usually painless and vision can be saved when caught early.
Regular eye examinations by Dr. Fox are the best way to detect glaucoma. The most common type of glaucoma, primary open angle glaucoma, is a gradual, painless process that a person who is not tested for glaucoma is usually unaware of until the loss of vision occurs. That is why routine glaucoma screening along with the more sophisticated diagnostic testing are available and performed daily at Family Medical Eye Center.
Unfortunately, in most cases damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed. Eye drops are the usual means of treating glaucoma. Sometimes laser or surgical treatments may be necessary to prevent or slow further optic nerve damage.
Regularly scheduled preventative care is the primary method of reducing the risk of serious loss of vision caused by glaucoma.