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Imagine having a silent intruder who is slowly stealing your most precious possession -- your eyesight -- without your even realizing it. That's the very real case for the estimated 1.5 million Americans who don't know they have glaucoma, a progressive, irreversible destruction of the optic nerves. But as frightening as that scenario sounds, you'll be comforted to know that this disease can be controlled if it's detected and treated early enough. That's why you absolutely want to schedule regular eye exams and, if necessary, glaucoma treatment here at Eyes on Henry.
The term "glaucoma" may refer to various specific conditions that cause damage to the sensitive fibers of the optic nerves. Most of the time, however, it's associated with ocular hypertension, a higher-than-average fluid pressure level inside the eye. Your eyes constantly produce a fluid called the aqueous humor, and when excess aqueous humor cannot drain out through the front of the eye at a normal rate, the intraocular pressure continues to build up until the optic nerves sustain damage. Being over 40, of African-American heritage, and/or diabetic are all significant risk factors -- but anyone can get glaucoma.
There are two primary types of glaucoma, one of which shows much more dramatic symptoms than the other. Angle-closure glaucoma, in which the entire drainage capability of the eye is suddenly shut off, is the less common of the two; it can cause sudden, extreme vision loss, vomiting, and acute eye pain calling for immediate treatment. Most glaucoma sufferers have open-angle glaucoma, in which the eyes' drainage is functional but inadequate. This condition is particularly insidious because it can damage your eyes for a long time before displaying glaucoma symptoms such as peripheral vision loss.
Since optic nerve damage cannot be repaired, it's imperative that you get your eyes checked for this disease on a regular basis. Comprehensive eye and vision exams can give us a wealth of information about the health of your eyes. Direct observation of the optic nerves allows us to look for signs of damage. A technique called tonometry lets us measure the eye's internal pressure, with ocular hypertension serving as a red flag for potential glaucoma. Vision testing can reveal glaucoma symptoms such peripheral vision loss.
If you have glaucoma, we can take immediate steps to keep it from destroying your eyesight. Topical or oral medication to regulate fluid production and drainage is a simple, effective answer for many patients. We can also refer you for an easy, painless laser procedure, if need be, to control more stubborn glaucoma.
Don't let glaucoma sneak up on you like a thief in the night -- let us shed light on your current condition so we can stop glaucoma's damage and preserve your eyesight. Call Eyes on Henry at 864-585-0208 to schedule an appointment with our Spartanburg SC team!