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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a chronic eye condition that affects the optic nerve in the eye, resulting in vision problems. The optic nerve is located at the back of the eye and ensures that the images that the eyes perceive are sent to the brain for interpretation. Glaucoma results in progressive damage to the optic nerve and almost always begins with the gradual loss of peripheral (outer edge) vision. The main factor affecting the optic nerve is increased pressure within the eye. This can be caused by a blockage of the channels in the eye, which prevents eye fluid from draining and accumulates in the eye. If not detected and treated, it can lead to progressive visual impairment and eventually blindness.

There are two main types of Glaucoma:

Risk Factors of Glaucoma

Glaucoma rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages, even though this is the stage when this disease is best treated. In its early stages, this eye condition can only be diagnosed through regular eye exams for people at risk. Although anyone can develop it, there are people who have a higher risk and who need to be examined more often by an eye specialist.

Major risk factors are:

If you meet one or more of these risk factors, it is wise to discuss the need for regular eye examinations with a doctor or specialist.

Being told that vision is affected by Glaucoma can turn the world upside down. When the first emotions subside, the knowledge that one is not alone may provide support. There are many people in the same situation, some who have just been diagnosed themselves and some who have been living with glaucoma for years.

Dealing with Glaucoma

Many people with glaucoma continue to do the things they have always done. If glaucoma is detected at an early stage, there is a good chance that there is still enough vision available, so that you can continue to do the activities that you have always done. If the condition is advanced, there is often still a little bit of vision. With the use of certain tools, it is still possible to continue doing the things one enjoys.

If you experience visual impairment as a result of glaucoma devices are available that can help with the tasks one is having difficulty with. These aids can provide support with tasks that require vision and can help you continue to lead a full and independent life.

Image view without and with glaucoma
Left: normal vision. Right: view with glaucoma

What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

The symptoms of open angle glaucoma are:

The symptoms of closed-angle glaucoma are:

What can one expect from Glaucoma?

Although optic nerve damage and vision loss due to glaucoma is irreversible, the eye condition can be controlled. There are treatments to restore ocular pressure and thus limit further damage to the optic nerve and increasing visual impairment. Treatments may involve the use of eye drops, laser treatment or surgery. Discuss the options with a doctor or eye specialist.

More information on Glaucoma

Extensive information is available. This information is intended to inform you about the most important aspects of this eye condition and is not intended to replace the information one receives from the doctor or eye specialist.

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