Dr. Pascavis checking eye pressure at the annual Health Fair located at the Lakes Mall in Muskegon
|GLAUCOMA - A WIDE SPREAD DISEASE
In glaucoma, pressure builds up inside the eye. Over time, the pressure build-up causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. Half of those suffering with the disease aren’t aware of it, because in the early stages, patients have no symptoms. Glaucoma is a wide spread disease.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. In the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms. Experts estimate that half of the people affected by glaucoma may not know they have it. Glaucoma is caused by a number of different eye diseases which in most cases produce increased pressure within the eye. This elevated pressure is caused by a backup of fluid in the eye. Over time, it causes damage to the optic nerve. Through early detection, diagnosis and treatment, you and your doctor can help to preserve your vision.
OPEN ANGLE GLAUCOMA
Think of your eye as a sink, in which the faucet is always running and the drain is always open. The aqueous humor is constantly circulating through the anterior chamber. It is produced by a tiny gland, called the ciliary body, situated behind the iris. It flows between the iris and the lens and, after nourishing the cornea and lens, flows out through a very tiny spongy tissue, only one-fiftieth of an inch wide, called the trabecular meshwork, which serves as the drain of the eye. The trabecular meshwork is situated in the angle where the iris and cornea meet. When this drain becomes clogged, aqueous can not leave the eye as fast as it is produced, causing the fluid to back up. But since the eye is a closed compartment, your `sink´ doesn´t overflow; instead the backed up fluid causes increased pressure to build up within the eye. We call this open (wide) angle glaucoma. To understand how this increased pressure affects the eye, think of your eye as a balloon. When too much air is blown into the balloon, the pressure builds, causing it to pop. But the eye is too strong to pop. Instead, it gives at the weakest point, which is the site in the sclera at which the optic nerve leaves the eye.
As we mentioned earlier, the optic nerve is the part of the eye which carries visual information to the brain. It is made up of over one million nerve cells, and while each cell is several inches long, it is extremely thin -- about one twenty-thousandth of an inch in diameter. When the pressure in the eye builds, the nerve cells become compressed, causing them to become damaged and, eventually, die. The death of these cells results in permanent visual loss. Early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma can help prevent this from happening.
EXPERIENCE ON THE LAKESHORE
Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, affects almost three million Americans, and is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans. It affects approximately 30,000 residents in Muskegon and Ottawa Counties. One simple office test is called tonometry, which detects elevated intraocular pressure.
Shoreline Vision’s doctors have vast experience in detecting and treating glaucoma. In addition, they are equipped with the latest tests that can detect glaucoma as early as possible. If you have a family history of glaucoma, see one of our doctors.