The normal eye is filled with a fluid called the aqueous humor, contained at a pressure of around 10-21 mm of Hg. The most important thing to understand about glaucoma is that it results from an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP). Most of the time, even when the patient has a high IOP the patient has no symptoms. The real damage is done, however, to the optic nerve at the back of the eye, which sends vision messages to the brain, and this can cause severe vision loss if left untreated. Glaucoma is incurable and damage incurred prior to treatment is irreversible, so it is important to be aware. Again, the most difficult thing about glaucoma is that it often has no symptoms until enough damage has been done to create noticeable vision loss. Only a few patients will have symptoms which can be chronic headaches or nausea, as well as blurry vision or pain after eyestrain. The loss of sight begins with peripheral vision and then works its way to the center of the eye, so one of the first diagnostic procedures for glaucoma will be a vision test of peripheral vision.
Glaucoma is actually an umbrella term that includes any of the several conditions that involve a hardening of the eye. It is most simply broken down into primary and secondary glaucoma. Primary glaucoma occurs seemingly spontaneously, meaning it is in no connection with another eye disease. Secondary glaucoma does have some such connection. Primary glaucoma can be broken down into Non-congestive / Chronic Glaucoma or Acute / Congestive glaucoma. The latter is more quick and dramatic than the prior, which happens slowly over a long period of time.
There is no one cause of primary glaucoma, which makes it difficult to predict. It is possible for glaucoma to be passed on congenitally from parents to children, and juvenile glaucoma is not easy to diagnose because many children do not know how to talk about or describe any problems they may be having. Some glaucoma is caused by improper drainage of the eye while other cases are caused by an increased production of the aqueous humor.
After understanding all of these pieces of the puzzle what can you do with a glaucoma diagnosis? The most common treatment is eye drops, which can help to regulate the aqueous humor production and drainage, and can be very effective at stalling or possibly stopping the eye damage if they are used consistently and correctly. Other surgeries and laser treatments are offered for more extreme cases. It is possible to become blind as a result of glaucoma, though efforts are always being made to learn more about how to predict, prevent, and treat this condition.
Eugene M. Blake
The American Journal of Nursing, Vol. 52, No. 4 (Apr., 1952), pp. 451-452
Published by: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Trope, Graham E. Glaucoma: A Patient’s Guide to the Disease
A Patient’s Guide to Glaucoma
By Young H Kwon, MD, PhD; John H Fingert, MD, PhD; and Emily C Greenlee, MD
Edited by Young H Kwon, MD, PhD