Glaucoma is a complicated disease that affects you in many ways. In a typical case of glaucoma, the disease progresses slowly. Most patients with the condition don’t realize they have it until vision loss has already occurred.
The problem is that any vision lost because of glaucoma is permanent. There are no symptoms to warn you, and the changes to your vision are subtle.
This highlights the importance of regular eye checkups. Even though there is no cure for glaucoma, its progression can be slowed down or halted with intervention. Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma and to find out if it’s painful!
Different Types of Glaucoma
The most common form of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is painless, but this disease comes in more than one form.
With open-angle glaucoma, a slight blockage occurs that slows the flow of fluid out of the interior of the eye. As more fluid is produced, the pressure inside of the eye begins to grow. This causes irreparable damage to the optic nerve, permanently destroying vision.
Normal glaucoma is gradual, which is why it is so hard to detect. If the flow of fluid is completely closed, pressure spikes quickly and dramatically.
This is called angle-closure glaucoma and causes symptoms that are very noticeable. These include sudden blurred vision, halos around lights, nausea, rapid sight loss, and severe eye pain and headaches.
This form of glaucoma is very dangerous and symptoms should be taken seriously and addressed as soon as possible. Fortunately, this form of glaucoma is also much less common. Other types of glaucoma include:
- Normal-tension glaucoma. The optic nerve becomes damaged despite what seems like normal levels of internal eye pressure. Not much is known about why normal-tension glaucoma exists, but it is very rare.
- Congenital glaucoma. This form of glaucoma occurs in babies when the drainage meshwork in their eyes is not developed and is often inherited. This can usually be fixed with a simple surgery.
- Traumatic glaucoma. Traumatic glaucoma occurs due to injury, usually blunt trauma to the eye although penetration into the eye may also cause this.
- Secondary glaucoma. Certain drugs may cause secondary glaucoma as a side effect.
How Glaucoma Treatment Works
Treatment of glaucoma will usually consist of applying medicated drops to your eyes. This medication will do one of two things.
It either relaxes the muscles in your eyes so that fluid can flow freely through the natural meshwork of the eye or slows the production of fluid so that the buildup has enough time to drain. In some cases, a combination of the two may be appropriate.
In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to quickly reduce pressure. Even after surgery, medication like eye drops are still necessary. This prevents pressure from building back up again.
It is important to keep up with your glaucoma medication once you start taking it. Not taking your medication as directed will lead to your intraocular levels increasing again. This will cause more irreversible damage to your vision and sight.
Concerned that you may have glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at Westlake Eye Specialists in Austin, TX to learn more!