Learn about Eye Diseases
Information about  eye Diseases
For your copy of the brochures, Answers To Your Questions About Glaucoma, Dibetes, Cataracts and Astigmatism
by the American Optometric Association, visit or call your local Eyetx Vision Center.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the internal fluid pressure of your eye rises to a point that the optic nerve is damaged. The pressure that builds up is usually due to inadequate drainage of fluid normally produced in your eyes. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S.

What causes Glaucoma?

The exact cause of glaucoma is not known. For some reason, the passages that normally allow fluid within you eye to drain out become clogged or blocked. This results in fluid building up within your eye and increasing pressure on the optic nerve. The nerve fibers and blood vessels in the optic nerve can easily be damaged by this pressure, resulting in loss of vision. An injury, infection or tumor in or around the eye can also cause the pressure to rise.

Who gets Glaucoma?

Glaucoma most frequently occurs in individuals over the age of 40, and there is a hereditary tendency for the development of the disease in some families. It is estimated that over 2 million Americans have glaucoma and this number is expected to rise as more of our population grows older. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease. It occurs more frequently in African Americans, than in Caucasians, causes damage at an earlier age and leads to blindness at a much greater rate. There is also a greater tendency for glaucoma to develop in individuals who are nearsighted or who have diabetes. For those over 35, regular optometric examinations are particularly important as a preventative eye care measure.

How is Glaucoma harmful to vision?

The optic nerve, at the back of the eye, carries visual information to the brain. As the fibers that make up the optic nerve are damaged, the amount and quality of information sent to the brain decreases and a loss of vision occurs

Will I go blind from Glaucoma?

If diagnosed at an early stage, glaucoma can often be controlled and little or no further vision loss may occur. If left untreated, first peripheral vision and then central vision will be affected and blindness may result.

How can I tell if I have Glaucoma?

The signs or symptoms of glaucoma can vary depending on the type. Primary open angle glaucoma often develops slowly and painlessly, with no early warning signs. It can gradually destroy your vision without you knowing it. The first indication may occur after some vision has already been lost. Acute angle closure glaucoma, which results from a sudden blockage of drainage channels in your eye, causes a rapid buildup of pressure accompanied by blurred vision, the appearance of colored rings around lights and pain and redness in the eyes.

How is Glaucoma detected?

A comprehensive optometric examination will include tests for glaucoma. A simple, painless procedure called tonometry measures the internal pressure of your eye. Your optometrist will also look into your eye to observe the health of the optic nerve and measure your field of vision.

How is Glaucoma treated?

Glaucoma is usually effectively treated with prescription eye drops and medicines that must be taken regularly. In some cases, laser therapy or surgery may be required. The goal of the treatment is to prevent loss of vision by lowering the fluid pressure in the eye

Will my vision be restored after treatment?

Unfortunately, any vision loss as a result of glaucoma is usually permanent and cannot be restored. This is why regular preventative eye examinations are so important. Low vision rehabilitation services, that include the use of specialized optical devices and training, may benefit individuals with severe loss.

Can Glaucoma be prevented?

No, but early detection and treatment can control glaucoma and reduce the chances of damage to the eye and a loss of sight.

What is a cataract?

When the normally clear lens within your eye becomes cloudy or opaque, it is called a cataract. Cataracts vary from extremely small areas of cloudiness to large opaque areas that cause a noticeable loss of vision.

Who gets cataracts?

Cataracts most often develop in persons over the age of 55, but they are also occasionally found in younger people, including newborns.

What causes cataracts?

Many factors can contribute to the development of cataracts. Chemical changes can occur within the lens in your eye that cause it to become cloudy. This may be due to advancing age or it may be the result of heredity, an injury or a disease. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight, cigarette smoking or the use of certain medications are also risk factors for the development of cataracts.

Can cataracts be prevented?

Currently, there are no proven methods to prevent cataracts from forming. However, reducing exposure to sunlight, decreasing or discontinuing smoking and eating a balanced diet may be helpful in preventing their development.

What are signs/symptoms of cataracts?

Cataracts usually develop slowly and without pain. Some indications that a cataract may be forming include blurred or hazy vision, decreased color perception, or the feeling of having a film over the eyes. A temporary improvement in near vision may occur, and increased sensitivity to glare, especially at night, may be experienced. Cataracts usually develop in both eyes, but often at different rates.

How are cataracts diagnosed?

A comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry can determine if you have a cataract forming.

How are cataracts treated?

If a cataract develops to a point that your daily activities are affected, you will be referred to an eye surgeon who may recommend the surgical removal of the cataract. The surgery can generally be done in the surgeon’s office using a local or topical anesthesia. Using a small incision, the surgeon will remove the clouded lens and, in most cases, replace it with an intraocular lens implant. A medication is generally placed in the eye after surgery and the eye may be patched.

What happens after cataract surgery?

You will need to have several follow-up evaluations by the eye surgeon and/or your optometrist to monitor the healing process. When completed, eyeglasses or contact lenses may be prescribed to provide the most effective post-cataract vision.

Is surgery the only way to treat cataracts?

Your optometrist can prescribe changes in your eyewear that will help you see more clearly until surgery is necessary. When eyewear no longer provides adequate eyesight, surgery is the most proven means of effective treating cataracts. Surgery is relatively uncomplicated and has an excellent success rate.

When will I need to have cataracts removed?

Cataracts may develop slowly over many years or they may form rapidly in a matter of months. Some cataracts never progress to the point that they need to be removed. Your optometrist can help you decide on the appropriate time for removal. Most people wait until the cataracts interfere with daily activities before having them removed.

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