January is Glaucoma Awareness month! Glaucoma is a intra ocular pressure (IOP) related disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve (the optic nerve connects/communicates between your eye and brain). Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable vision loss in adults over the age of sixty. It can occur due to the over production or under filtration of aqueous that fills the eye. The excess fluid increases IOP, which escapes via the optic nerve leading to damage. That damage causes peripheral vision loss.
Aqueous is constantly produced inside your eye, it helps to nourish the eye and maintain its shape. As aqueous is produced the same amount should also be filtered out to maintain IOP balance. If the drainage system of the eye is failing or if the eye is over producing aqueous the pressure inside the eye will rise, which places stress on the optic nerve.
They best way to diagnose glaucoma is with regularly scheduled complete eye exams. Glaucoma screening only checks IOP and your visual field. It is not enough to detect and diagnose glaucoma alone. The damage done due to glaucoma is permanent and cannot be reversed. The good news is that most cases of glaucoma are slow moving and damage occurs over several years. Eye drops (prescribed) can help to maintain IOP and slow or stop said damage. Lasers can also be used in low invasive procedures to help maintain IOP. In more advanced cases surgical intervention can stop damage as well.