Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute, but about half of all people with glaucoma do not realize they have the eye condition because there are no symptoms. In fact, a person can lose as much as 40 percent of his vision without noticing.
Glaucoma is the cause of 9 – 12 percent of all cases of blindness in the United States today, robbing approximately 120,000 people of their sight. There is currently no way to restore vision once it is lost, but treatment can control glaucoma and prevent severe vision loss.
The word ‘glaucoma’ is actually an umbrella term for a group of eye diseases that damage the delicate fibers that run from your eye to your optic nerve, which is the nerve that carries information about the images your eye sees to your brain. This damage is often the result of high fluid pressure inside the eye.
Fluid in the front part of the eye helps the eyeball keep its shape. One part of the eye produces this fluid while the eye’s drainage system, known as the trabecular meshwork, allows excess fluid to drain. This production/drainage system keeps just the right amount of fluid in the eye to maintain a healthy intraocular pressure.
In most types of glaucoma, the trabecular meshwork clogs, which prevents the fluid from draining properly and allows pressure to build up inside the eye. High pressure damages the sensitive fibers where they connect to the optic nerve, known as the optic disc. The optic disc sits just in front of the retina, which is a light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the back of your eye.
As the fibers begin to die, the disc hollows to develop a curved, cupped shape that presses against the optic nerve. If the high pressure continues for a long time, the excessive pressure can damage the optic nerve to cause vision loss.
Know Your Risks
Anyone can develop glaucoma but some anyone with a family history and individuals over 60, are at higher risk for developing the condition. Anyone with risk factors can benefit from a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, as lowering eye pressure in glaucoma’s early stages has been show to slow progression of the disease and help save vision. In recognition of Glaucoma Awareness Month, January is an excellent time to get an annual eye exam.
Optos provides eye care professionals with the images and diagnostic information they need to assist in the diagnoses of eye problems. Optos offers optomap®, an ultra-widefield retinal imaging (UWF™) retinal imaging method that facilitates early detection from vision impairment or blindness, and other systemic disease.
The unique UWF imaging of optomap captures more than 80% of the retina in a single image, whereas small-field methods reveal only 10 – 15%. optomap is fast and addition to a standard comprehensive eye exam. Ask your eye care professional about optomap today.