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St. Maarten Medical Center
Glaucoma is a complex disease in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss.
Glaucoma is the name of a group of diseases characterized by a combination of:
Fluid pressure increases in the eye when the eye’s fluid (called aqueous humor) does not drain properly. This pressure reduces the blood supply to the optic nerve and causes the death of nerve cells. As these cells die, blind spots develop. Without treatment, glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness.
Open-angle (chronic) glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. It occurs when the fluid channels in the wall of the eye gradually narrow with time.
Close or closed-angle glaucoma
Closed-angle (acute) glaucoma occurs when the iris slips forward and closes off the exit of the aqueous humor. This type is more common amongst farsighted people.
Other types of glaucoma
In addition to open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma, there are many other causes for too high an eye pressure, such as an eye accident, eye surgery, certain medication use or some birth defects.
Regular eye examinations by your ophthalmologist are the best way to detect glaucoma. Your ophthalmologist will measure your intraocular pressure, inspect the drainage angle of your eye, evaluate whether there is any optic nerve damage, and test the peripheral vision of each eye.
Damage caused by glaucoma usually cannot be reversed. Eye drops, laser surgery, and operating room surgery can be used to help prevent further damage. Oral medication may also be prescribed.
There is no real prevention for glaucoma. Early detection, however, may prevent further vision loss and blindness. Anyone older than 35 should have an eye examination at least every 2 years.