The most common form of Glaucoma steals sight gradually, and has thus earned the grim nickname "sneak thief of sight." Eleven percent of blindness cases are the result of Glaucoma, and millions of Americans suffer from the disease.
If Glaucoma is diagnosed early, drugs can control it for a lifetime. People with undetected Glaucoma can lose much of their vision before realizing how severely the disease has restricted their sight. Consequently, physicians recommend that everyone over thirty-five years of age have his/her eyes tested for Glaucoma at least every two years.
How Glaucoma Harms Your Eyes:
The major sign of Glaucoma is high pressure within the eye. The rise in pressure results from a build up of aqueous fluid. This fluid bears a heavy responsibility. The nutrients it contains feed both the cornea and the lens. The ciliary body, behind the iris, constantly secretes aqueous fluid, about one-fifth of an ounce per day. From the ciliary body, the fluid flows into the posterior chamber, then slowly circulates over the lens and toward the pupil. There, it flows over the rim of the iris and into the anterior chamber, behind the cornea. At the outer edge of the anterior chamber, where the iris meets the back of the cornea, lies the trabecular meshwork, a webbing of tiny fibers and canals that steadily drain the aqueous fluid out of the eye. If these drainage canals are blocked, pressure rises and squeezes the tiny capillaries that feed the blanket of microscopic nerve fibers within the eye.
Later Signs Of Glaucoma:
With the passage of time, some of the nerve fibers, usually those responsible for transmitting peripheral vision, die. As a result, peripheral vision is usually the first to go. Then the field of remaining vision shrinks. The final stages of Glaucoma are acute tunnel vision and sometimes blindness. Sometimes, Glaucoma first becomes apparent by the damage it causes, such as a slight decrease of peripheral vision. Another sign is a change in the shape of the optic nerve, visible through the ophthalmoscope as a pale disk on the retina.
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