Glaucoma, The Silent Menace to Eyesight

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What is Glaucoma

Increased intraocular pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve.  Aqueous fluid is continually being produced and building up  in the front of the eye and being drained off through ducts called angles  between the iris and cornea.  When these ducts become obstructed the fluid can’t drain off and the intraocular pressure increases.

There are several different types of glaucoma.  Open angle glaucoma can occur when the angle remains open, but the drainage network is partially obstructed.  Pressure build up is slow and painless and may damage you eyesight before you even notice a problem.

Narrow angle or closed angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle is too narrow for the fluid to drain off fast enough so the eye pressure increases suddenly.  Although this is the case in most narrow angle glaucoma, it can also happen very slowly and damage the nerve without any warning signs.

There are several other types of glaucoma, but these are the most common. Learn more.

Who is at risk

Those with elevated intraocular pressure should be monitored closely.  Not everyone who has an elevated pressure will develop the disease, but that is one warning signal.

Those over 60 are at greater risk of developing glaucoma.  African-American people are six to eight times more prone to get glaucoma and it is more likely to lead to permanent damage than in Caucasians.  The disease is seen much younger in this ethnic group.  African-Americans should start having their intraocular pressure monitored around the age of 30.  Some other ethnic groups such as Mexican-Americans and those of Asian decent are also at higher risk.

If you have a family history of glaucoma, you are at risk.  Glaucoma seems to have a genetic link, so if there is a history of the disease it may be passed on.  Not all people who develop glaucoma have a family history of the disease, so even if no one in your family has it, don’t neglect those regular eye exams.

Certain diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or hypothyroidism can increase your risk.

Severe eye injuries or inflammation of the eye may lead to glaucoma.

Those who are nearsighted are more likely than others to develop the disease

Prolonged usage of corticosteroids, especially corticosteroid eye drops may increase your risk.

If left untreated this disease can cause vision loss.  You will probably first lose peripheral vision, develop tunnel vision and finally go totally blind.  Early detection is the key to keeping your eyesight!

Although there is no evidence in Western medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine has, for centuries, recommended a series of eye exercises to relieve strain on the eyes and ward off glaucoma and cataracts, or in some cases even cure many of the chronic eye diseases we are so likely to encounter in this stressful age.  I find these exercises not only relieve eye strain, they can reduce your stress level.

Protect your eyesight.  Keep your eyes healthy.  Have your eyes examined and your intraocular pressure monitored regularly.


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