Glaucoma is one of those eye diseases where you've heard of it a million times before you actually learn what it is. You may have been through a glaucoma test -- where you wait a few agonizing seconds before a puff of air is released at your open eye, and you have to blink a bunch of times before submitting the other eye to the same sort of torture -- but do you actually know what it's looking for? If you're curious about glaucoma (or think that you may have it and want to learn more), then here's what you need to know.
It's not a new disease
Doctors aren't sure how long glaucoma has been around, but the first use of the term "glaucoma" to describe the disorder that results in optic nerve damage due to increased pressure by fluid behind the eye happened in about 1850. By that time, enough advances in technology had been made that ophthalmologists could actually see the damage done to the optic nerve by using an ophthalmoscope.
The word itself is a derivative of a Greek word used to refer to any eye color that wasn't dark. Eyes affected by close-angle glaucoma can sometimes have a greenish pupil, which might have inspired the name.
There's two different types
The type of glaucoma you have can actually effect your symptoms. Closed-angle glaucoma is sudden and painful, and is absolutely a medical emergency that you will notice immediately. However, the type of glaucoma that most people are familiar with is the more common open-angle glaucoma, which comes on very subtly and is completely painless. By the time you start noticing open-angle glaucoma, the disease has already progressed quite far, and the sight that you've lost can never be restored.
It can affect the rest of your life
Even though glaucoma is an eye disease, its effects can spread throughout the rest of your body - and consequently, into every sphere of your life. Your sense of balance may be affected, as your vision plays a large role in keeping you upright. While glaucoma cannot be cured, you will have to take medicine (in the form of eye drops) for the rest of your life to stop its progression. While laser treatments are available, they are merely stopgaps to be repeated every few years.
When it comes to glaucoma, prevention is the watchword; that annoying test at the eye doctor's might make your eyes water, but it will keep your seeing clearly for many years to come.
My name is Shawna Banks and this is a blog that focuses on health issues that affect women. I became interested in women's health when my sister began having medical problems. After her condition worsened, she went to see a doctor. After her diagnosis and successful treatment, I helped her research the different kinds of health conditions that are common in women. By becoming knowledgeable about these types of problems, we can keep ourselves healthier. I hope that when you read this blog, it will help you to identify symptoms that shouldn't be ignored. If necessary, you can schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible.