What Is Glaucoma? Essay

1341 words - 5 pages

What is Glaucoma?Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of permanent blindness around the world that is preventable. This disease takes away the sense of sight slowly and there are no warning signs most of the time. The damage caused is permanent and cannot be reversed. With the correct eye care there will be little vision loss. Glaucoma is caused by the pressure inside the eye being elevated causing lack of blood flow to the optic nerve, thereby causing the vision loss. There are two main types of glaucoma. There is chronic simple (open-angle) and acute (angle-closure). In chronic simple, the pressure in the eye goes up gradually and vision loss will be over a period of years. In acute the pressure goes up rapidly and medical treatment is needed to preserve the vision. The more common of the two is chronic simple or open-angle. The nerve cells that are lost due to glaucoma are called ganglion cells. Each of these cells has a long fiber that connects it to the brain. As these cells die, the nerve fibers are then lost. When this happens, the nerve fiber layer gets thinner. This causes an empty space in the optic nerve, which is the "cup" of the optic nerve, to become larger until the nerve is completely gone. This is what the ophthalmologist goes by to determine the amount of damage caused by this disease. (Ritch, and Liebmann, alt.support.glaucoma, 2002).The definition that is in the encyclopedia is as follows: "an eye disease caused by raised pressure inside the eye." (Webster's Family Encyclopedia, 1989, vol. 5 p. 107).Glaucoma is the result of a variety of diseases. Bacteria, viral or degenerative factors, do not cause glaucoma. It is caused from a combination of anything that stops the blood flow from getting to the eye and the optic nerve. A progressive optic neuropathy is characterized by a specific pattern of optic nerve head and visual field damage. It is a disease of the optic nerve. This nerve is what sends visual information from the eye to the brain, which in turn allows us to see. For the most part, damage will progress very slowly over a number of years. This progression can also be rapid. Glaucoma is a final common pathway, which results from many conditions that can affect the eye. As this damage goes on, the person will lose vision. This loss of vision normally starts with the peripheral vision and work toward the central and reading vision. This is when the person will notice problems with their vision. Since this loss is irreversible, it is important to find it before a severe amount of damage has occurred to the nerve. Proper treatment can stop further loss of vision. (Ritch and Liebmann, alt.support.glaucoma, 2002).A fluid fills the eye called aqueous humor. This fluid helps the eye maintain its shape. This fluid is in the posterior chamber of the eye. It flows through the chamber and out a tiny canal called trabecular meshwork. The small hole on the canal is at an angle where the iris meets the cornea. This is what lets the...

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