You've most likely heard the term "glaucoma" (pronounced "glah-KOH-muh") but you may not know exactly what it is-outside of it being an eyesight problem. Here's the glaucoma definition you're searching for (in everyday language).

It's an eye disease in which the damage to the optic nerve can lead to eyesight loss.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, and it primarily occurs in those over 60, but it may also strike at those over 40. And while it cannot be prevented (at least not at our current state of technology), it can be diagnosed and treated successfully if it's caught early.

Different kinds of glaucoma

Glaucoma isn't limited to just one type. In fact, it is best categorised as a group of eye disorders. Two of these include:

Open-angle glaucoma

With this form, fluid doesn't properly drain out of your eye's interior, so your inner eye pressure rises, which results in a gradual reduction in your quality of vision. This can occur over a long period of time, so it may be difficult to detect unless you have timely appointments for glaucoma screenings with your doctor.

Angle-closure glaucoma

Again, the eye doesn't drain properly because its canals are blocked. The difference in this form is that the eye's iris doesn't open as widely as it should.

The eye pressure also occurs much more rapidly. When this occurs, you may experience severe pain in headaches and nausea, requiring immediate medical attention.


Surgery for glaucoma and other treatments

Since we need the eye to drain properly to reverse the effects of glaucoma, there are forms of surgery that are used to do this. Lasers can be used to reduce the increasing pressure inside the eye.

A less invasive method involves prescribed medications. Whether this is effective often involves how early the glaucoma is detected and the level of pressure inside the eye. Your ophthalmologist will be able to better describe which approach is best for you.

While glaucoma doesn't have a readily available cure, it can be controlled and treated. Like many diseases, early detection plays an important role. Be sure to see your optician periodically, even if you feel fine.

Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.
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