What Is Glaucoma? Learn About the Silent Thief of Sight

According to the CDC, it’s estimated that around 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. It’s also the second leading cause of blindness globally, meaning that everyone should be concerned about their risk. 

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damages the optic nerve. It’s usually caused by high eye pressure, but this isn’t always the case. It comes in different types with open-angle glaucoma being the most common. There are many treatments available, including glaucoma surgery in Knoxville. Symptoms can vary depending on the type of glaucoma that you have and what stage it’s at.

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma isn’t one single eye condition. Instead, it’s a group of conditions that damages the optic nerve and reduces your vision. In most cases, this is caused by uncommonly high pressure inside the eye. 

What Causes Glaucoma? 

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High eye pressure is the result of fluid that has built up in the eye. This clear fluid, known as aqueous humor, drains out of the eye naturally at the angle where the cornea and iris connect when functioning properly. This fluid can become trapped due to overproduction or a malfunctioning drainage system, leading to a rise in pressure within the eye and glaucoma.

However, it’s important to note that not all cases of glaucoma are caused by high eye pressure. In some cases, people with glaucoma experience a damaged optic nerve without an increase in eye pressure. Talk to your eye doctor about your risk factors, such as how glaucoma can run in families, and what can be done about it.

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Types of Glaucoma

Glaucoma comes in different types with some being more common than others. While they can develop in different ways, they all have the same result — high eye pressure. 

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle where the iris and cornea meet is open but the trabecular meshwork is partially blocked. This causes the pressure within your eye to slowly increase over time and damage your optic nerve. Without early detection such as comprehensive eye exams, you can experience irreparable vision loss without realizing it. 

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Also known as closed-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma develops when the iris has bulged forward, narrowing or blocking the drainage angle. This prevents fluid from circulating normally and increases the pressure inside your eye. In some cases, patients may have narrow drainage angles that put them at a higher risk of this type of glaucoma.

Unlike open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma can develop suddenly (acute angle-closure glaucoma). However, it can still develop more slowly as it causes you to lose vision. Fast-developing cases are considered a medical emergency and require immediate treatment from your eye doctor.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

Not every case of glaucoma is caused by high eye pressure. In the case of normal-tension glaucoma, your optic nerve can become damaged without high eye pressure. While the cause isn’t known, some experts suspect that it’s caused by an optic nerve that’s sensitive or not getting enough blood. This could be caused by atherosclerosis or another circulation problem.

Pigmentary Glaucoma

Pigmentary glaucoma occurs when pigment granules from the iris collect inside your eyes’ drainage channels. Over time, this can narrow or even block fluid from leaving your eye. The granules can get jostled loose during activities such as jogging or other exercises, so it’s important to talk to your ophthalmologist to protect your eye health.

Glaucoma Treatment

Your eye doctor has multiple options at their disposal to treat glaucoma. The treatment they prescribe will depend on the type of glaucoma you have and the stage that it’s at.

Eye Drops

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Prescription eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma. Eye drops can’t cure glaucoma or restore your vision. However, they can reduce your eye pressure and protect your optic nerve from further damage. It’s important to take your eye drops as prescribed to protect the vision that you have left. Otherwise, you run the risk of even more vision loss.

Glaucoma Surgery in Knoxville

Tennessee Valley Eye Center has been providing glaucoma surgery in Knoxville for 22 years. We offer a wide variety of surgical solutions to treat your glaucoma and protect your vision. This includes:

  • MIGS (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery)
  • Laser trabeculoplasty
  • Laser peripheral iridotomy
  • Trabeculectomy
  • Aqueous tube shunt
  • ExPRESS mini shunt

Your eye doctor will decide which form of surgery is best for your particular case. Ask them how to prepare for surgery, what to expect, and for tips on how to recover. This will help you be as prepared as possible through the entire process so that there are no surprises.

To learn more about glaucoma surgery in Knoxville, click here!

Glaucoma Symptoms

Glaucoma symptoms can vary depending on the type of you have and how far it’s progressed. For instance, open-angle glaucoma is usually accompanied by blind spots in your peripheral and central vision. More advanced stages may include tunnel vision.

On the other hand, glaucoma symptoms early in acute angle-closure glaucoma can be much more severe. In this case, you may experience:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Eye redness

Talk to your eye doctor about your risk of developing glaucoma and symptoms to watch out for.

Are you in need of glaucoma surgery in Knoxville? Contact us today with any questions you may have!

Your optic nerve can be permanently damaged by a group of eye conditions known as glaucoma. While usually caused by increased pressure within the eye, glaucoma can also occur without high eye pressure. Treatments include prescription eye drops, oral medications, and glaucoma surgery in Knoxville. Your symptoms may vary based on the type of glaucoma you have and the stage that it’s at.

Tennessee Valley Eye Center is Knoxville’s premier eye care facility, performing more eye surgeries than any other facility in the region. Our board-certified surgeons cover all ophthalmic subspecialties, including cataracts, cornea, glaucoma, retina, eyelid disorders and cancers, and eye muscle surgeries. We want you to feel as comfortable and confident as possible as you prepare for surgery. If you would like to discuss your surgery with us at any time, please do not hesitate to contact us.