Glaucoma is the categorical name for a group of eye diseases that can affect vision with few or no symptoms. The vision loss suffered from glaucoma is due to damage to the ocular nerve, which is a bundle of nerve fibers that carry visual messages to the brain.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma, affecting aboutthree million Americans. It occurs when the eye's drainage canals becomeclogged over time. The inner eye pressure (also called intraocular pressure orIOP) rises because the correct amount of fluid is not able to drain out of theeye. With open-angle glaucoma, the entrances to the drainage canals are clearand should be working correctly. The clogging problem occurs inside the drainagecanals, like clogging that can occur inside a pipe below a drain in a sink.
Angle-closure glaucoma is also known as acute glaucoma ornarrow angle glaucoma. It is much more uncommon and is very different from openangle glaucoma, in that the eye pressure usually goes up very fast. This takesplace when the drainage canals get blocked or covered, like a clogged sink whensomething is covering the drain.
When glaucoma causes pressures within the eye to rise todetrimental levels, the pressure can ultimately damage the optic nerve at theback of the eye, thereby causing vision loss. The earlier the disease isdiagnosed and treated, the greater the likelihood of avoiding permanent visionloss.
Open-angle glaucoma is commonly treated with medication and with greatsuccess. Angle-closure glaucoma typically requires surgery to correct theproblem.
Low Vision Aids can be particularly valuable for sufferers of glaucoma. Although magnification devices are particularly beneficial during the early stages of glaucoma, the use of contrast-enhancing filters and other solutions often prove very helpful.