Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. Damage is the result of increased intraocular pressure stemming from a buildup of fluid, or aqueous humor. Glaucoma causes gradual vision loss. Patients often ask if glaucoma can cause blindness. The answer is yes. In fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 60.
Here, Dr. Raul Peña helps individuals understand how glaucoma progresses. He also discusses the treatments available at our Harlingen, TX, eye institute that can manage glaucoma to help patients preserve their vision.
How Glaucoma Affects the Vision
Glaucoma affects vision by damaging the optic nerve, which is responsible for sending signals to the brain to allow it to process images. The eye is filled with a liquid called aqueous humor. The eye makes, drains, and replaces this fluid on a regular basis. Unfortunately, in patients with glaucoma, fluids are not drained properly. Instead the fluid builds up, thus increasing pressure within the eye and putting particular force on the optic nerve.
In its early stages, glaucoma is unlikely to have any impact on vision. However, as the condition progresses and causes more damage, visual effects will become more obvious. Our Harlingen patients may first develop blurry vision. Depending on the type of glaucoma they have (open-angle or angle-closure) and how far advanced the condition is they may notice small blind spots, either in their peripheral or central vision. Without treatment, glaucoma patients will eventually suffer from tunnel vision and, ultimately, total vision loss.
How Quickly Does Glaucoma Progress?
In most cases, glaucoma progresses slowly, which is fortunate, because it gives people time to have the condition diagnosed and find a treatment that is effective in managing this eye disease. While disease progression depends on a number of different factors, it usually takes many years for glaucoma to progress to the point that it causes complete blindness.
Unfortunately, the damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible, and since symptoms do not usually develop right away, a significant amount of damage may be present before patients realize they have glaucoma. Routine eye exams are especially important, because they allow eye diseases like glaucoma to be diagnosed before obvious symptoms develop, and while it is still possible to save the vision.
What Can I Do to Prevent Blindness Caused by Glaucoma?
There is no cure for glaucoma, nor are there treatments to reverse glaucoma damage. However, there are many treatments available to manage glaucoma so that vision loss is slowed or completely halted. Glaucoma treatments focus on reducing intraocular pressure so that the optic nerve is not further damaged.
Dr. Peña offers several effective glaucoma treatments to his Harlingen patients. Treatment options include:
- Laser treatments
- Glaucoma surgery
- GLAUCKOS iStent
Learn How To Preserve Your Vision
Dr. Raul Peña offers a comprehensive range of glaucoma treatments that manage the progression of this damaging eye disease. If you’d like to learn more about our glaucoma treatments, and which may be best-suited to your unique needs, call (956) 264-1200 to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.