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Glaucoma Facts & Treatment

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that slowly causes a loss of vision by damaging the main nerve in the eye, called the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries images from the back of the eye to the brain, much like a telephone cable. Without treatment, glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness in one or both eyes.

The visual field is the entire area that the eye can see from side to side (and above and below). Glaucoma starts by affecting the peripheral (side) vision and slowly spreads. Glaucoma causes no pain and your central vision may be preserved for years. It is therefore impossible to know if you have the early stages of glaucoma.

In some forms of the condition, onset can be more sudden with accompanied blurry vision, eye pain, halos, nausea and vomiting. This is considered a medical emergency which needs quick attention.

Treatment for Glaucoma

Fortunately, loss of sight from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment before the disease progresses. New research, conducted at McGill University, suggests that some recovery of lost vision is possible. Effective treatments for glaucoma all work by lowering the pressure inside the eye to reduce the damage to the optic nerve. Treatment often begins with eye drops. It is important that eye drops prescribed by your doctor are used faithfully and at regular intervals during the day. If you try a few different eye drops, and they do not lower your eye pressure enough, your eye doctor might suggest surgery or laser therapy.

Laser Therapy for Glaucoma

When laser therapy is necessary the treatment improves the way fluid drains from the eye. When surgery is required, this involves making a small opening or inserting a tiny tube in the eye so that fluid can drain better. If you have glaucoma, even after successful treatment your doctor will want to follow you closely to ensure the problem is kept under control.

Always call your health care provider if you have a dramatic change in your vision or in sensation such as a sudden loss of site, loss of peripheral vision or eye pain.