Glaucoma refers to several different eye diseases. In these diseases, the fluid pressure within the eye can often be elevated. Over time, this can lead to the partial loss of vision, or even total blindness in some cases. Open-angle glaucoma is the most commonly occurring kind of glaucoma.
Glaucoma happens when the anterior chamber, the area at the forefront of the eye, starts to drain clear fluid too slowly. This slow drainage results in an accumulation of pressure. This, in turn, causes serious damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve damage may occur with only a minimal increase in pressure for some people, but for others, the increase in pressure must be dramatic before it results in major optic nerve damage.
Nearly any person can get glaucoma, but certain groups of people may have higher risk levels for developing this type of eye disease. African Americans have an elevated risk for glaucoma, especially at the age of 40 and beyond. People of all races have an elevated risk for glaucoma over the age of 60. Anyone who has glaucoma in the family, especially the immediate family, has a higher risk of developing it themselves.
Initially, open-angle glaucoma does not cause symptoms. When the disease enters its later stages, a person who suffers from glaucoma will start to notice that the peripheral vision is fading. Eventually, the field of vision will narrow even further and total blindness is the result. Angle-closure glaucoma can present with headaches, blurred vision, nausea, or halos.
The treatment for glaucoma depends on the specific patient and on the progression of the disease. Eye drops, medication, laser surgery, or several of these methods may be used. If people who suffer from glaucoma pursue appropriate medical treatment, they can avoid losing their any portion of their vision.
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