Why Is Glaucoma Called the Silent Thief of Sight?

Glaucoma describes a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, a bundle of over one million nerve fibers that carry visual information from the eye to the brain. Often called the silent thief of sight, glaucoma’s nickname is based on the fact that it can cause vision loss without any noticeable symptoms.

This vision loss is irreversible, so the nickname is apt. Glaucoma often develops slowly over time.

Individuals with glaucoma may not realize that they have the disease until they experience vision loss. Regular eye exams are critical in the early detection of glaucoma when treatment can often slow or halt disease progression.

Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma and why it is called the silent thief of sight!

What Causes Glaucoma?

A healthy eye produces aqueous humor, fluid that fills the front part of the eye and flows out through eye’s drainage system. A balanced flow is necessary for your eye’s health.

One way to check the balance is by measuring eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure, or IOP. A major risk factor for glaucoma is high IOP.

An IOP that’s higher than normal can result in damage to the optic nerve by killing off nerve fibers which in turn causes vision loss. At this point, the loss is irreversible: any sight you’ve lost is sight you can’t get back.

However, not everyone with high IOP will develop glaucoma. And although it is common, not everyone with glaucoma will have an elevated IOP.

What Are the Different Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type, and it usually develops slowly without any noticeable symptoms.

It’s called open-angle because the drainage system is open and not blocked. Angle-closure glaucoma is less common but can cause symptoms such as eye pain, redness, and blurred vision.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Often there are no symptoms in early stages. The first indications of glaucoma might be a loss of peripheral or side vision, creating a sense of peering through a tunnel.

As it worsens, glaucoma affects central vision, reducing sight until blindness occurs.

Who’s At Risk For Glaucoma?

Glaucoma risk increases with age, especially when you’re forty or older. Other increased risk factors include those with a family history of glaucoma, people with diabetes, individuals with extreme nearsightedness, and patients who’ve used steroid medications over a long period of time.

Regular eye exams are recommended if you’re over the age of sixty, have a family history of glaucoma, or have high IOP.

How Do Eye Doctors Diagnose Glaucoma?

A comprehensive eye exam can detect glaucoma symptoms long before the patient is aware of the condition. Eye pressure is measured along with corneal thickness.

The optic nerve is carefully examined through the dilated pupils. Visual field testing measures the side vision of the eye. And computerized optic nerve imaging can also be done.

What Are the Treatment Methods of Glaucoma?

As with any health condition, early detection is key. When caught early, glaucoma can be managed to prevent further vision loss. Depending on the type of glaucoma, treatment can include prescription eye drops to reduce IOP, microsurgery to thoroughly drain out the fluid of the eye, or certain laser surgery procedures.

Do you want to learn more about glaucoma or have your eyes screened for the condition? Schedule an appointment at Berg Feinfield Vision Correction in Burbank, CA, today!