While some eye problems cause acute irritation and other discomforts without doing permanent harm, others may destroy your vision without necessarily producing any outward symptoms whatsoever. Glaucoma, a disease that damages the sensitive fibers of the optic nerves, is one such ailment, potentially causing years of destruction before you notice any vision problems. But glaucoma doesn’t have to mean blindness. Our optometrist at Merrimack Vision Care, Dr. Chauvette, can catch the early signs of glaucoma in a comprehensive eye exam, prescribing treatments to help you manage the condition and preserve your eyesight.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a destruction of the optic nerve most commonly associated with high intraocular pressure. The pressure comes from a fluid called the aqueous humor routinely produced by the eye. Under normal circumstances, a drainage system in the iris allows excess fluid to escape, thus normalizing the pressure level. If this drainage system fails to do its job, the pressure rises — an effect that can damage the optic nerves. This is glaucoma. The two main categories of glaucoma include:
Open-angle glaucoma – This common variety of glaucoma does its damage slowly; the drainage system still works, but not well enough to keep up with fluid production. This disease can lurk silently for years until you finally start to notice that your peripheral vision is failing.
Narrow-angle or angle-closure glaucoma – This acute type of glaucoma strikes when the drainage system fails completely due to an abnormally narrow drainage angle. Unlike the subtle approach of open-angle glaucoma, this condition can cause intense eye pain, headache pain, nausea and noticeable vision loss. If it isn’t treated immediately, blindness can result in a matter of hours.
Anyone can get glaucoma, especially after age 60. But African-Americans experience an elevated risk after age 40, and individuals with a family history of glaucoma, high blood pressure or thin corneas are also at risk. Asian-Americans are especially prone to narrow-angle glaucoma.
How Our Southern NH Optometrist Can Help
Our Southern NH optometrist can look for glaucoma indicators as part of a comprehensive eye exam. The first step is tonometry, in which we measure the pressure inside the eye; abnormally high pressure calls for further investigation. We can look inside the eye to observe the optic nerves directly for any signs of damage. Tests of your peripheral vision can tell us whether glaucoma has begin to affect your eyesight.
If you have glaucoma, we can help you gain control over it through topical medications and oral medications. These drugs limit aqueous humor production and/or help the drainage system work better. We can even refer you to an eye surgeon for laser procedures and other techniques to address both open-angle and narrow-angle glaucoma.
Get Your Eyes Checked for Glaucoma at Merrimack Vision Care
Don’t let glaucoma claim your eyesight. Take action against it today by calling 603-644-6100 for an appointment at our Manchester, Merrimack or Milford office!