How Glaucoma Affects Your Optic Nerve

Glaucoma is one of the biggest causes of blindness. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. alone are blind from the condition, and it is believed that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma but have not yet lost all vision because of it.

Many patients are not even aware that they have glaucoma, as it generally has no symptoms until permanent vision damage has already been done. This is what makes glaucoma so frightening, and just one of the many reasons that regular checkups with your eye doctor are crucial.

Detecting glaucoma early is difficult, but if it is found it can be treated before vision is significantly lost. To understand how glaucoma can be treated, it’s important to know exactly how glaucoma works.

Glaucoma Damages the Optic Nerve

The optic nerve is a vital part of your eye. It is essentially the wire that connects your eye to your brain. Light and images are transferred from the retina and to a specific section of the brain called the lateral geniculate nucleus via electrical impulses. Needless to say, it is important to have a healthy optic nerve in order to see.

Glaucoma can have several different causes, but the way it causes loss of vision is the same — damage to the optic nerve. A rise in internal eye pressure is usually the culprit for this damage. The eye has a system of drainage canals that normally allow eye fluid to flow through at a healthy rate. However, if this system becomes clogged or blocked by any means, the internal eye pressure will gradually rise.

This pressure puts stress on the optic nerve resulting in glaucoma. However, everyone has different optic nerves, and some people can withstand higher internal eye pressure, while others may suffer from even a slight rise. It is also possible for the optic nerve to be damaged without a serious rise in eye pressure, which is known as “normal-tension” glaucoma— though very little is known as to why this occurs.

Glaucoma Treatment Glendale

While sight that is already lost is forever gone, it is possible to stop glaucoma in its tracks and prevent further vision loss if the condition is caught early enough. That, among many other reasons, is why it is so important to schedule regular visits. Depending on your age, you should be aiming to visit the eye doctor at least once a year, and twice a year after you reach the age of 65.

If you are found to have glaucoma, chances are you will be prescribed medicated eye drops that are designed to lower eye pressure. It is very important to take these as directed, usually every day, as missing a day of medication can cause your eye pressure to rise back up and damage your optic nerve even more.

Your eye doctor may also recommend a trabeculoplasty which is a laser surgery designed to make the drainage system work as intended.

Don’t forget — regular eye exams are the key to maintaining healthy vision. Set one up with us today!

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