Why Is Glaucoma Considered a ‘Silent’ Eye Disease?

Why Is Glaucoma Considered a ‘Silent’ Eye Disease?

Glaucoma isn’t a single condition, but instead a group of eye issues that cause damage to the optic nerve. It’s the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide, after cataracts. The most common forms of glaucoma result from increased pressure inside the eye, usually because of a drainage problem leading to a buildup of fluid. Not all forms of glaucoma feature this pressure problem, though. 

Regular eye exams are the best way to reduce the risk of glaucoma-related vision loss. The team at IC Laser Eye Care specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma, so one of our three offices — in Philadelphia and Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and Hamilton, New Jersey — should be your first stop.  

Types of glaucoma

There are at least 10 types of glaucoma, but two types dominate. 

Open-angle glaucoma

Open-angle is the dominant form of glaucoma, accounting for at least 90% of all cases. This condition is slow to develop, as drains that release excess eye fluid start to clog. This  increases the pressure of fluid within your eye, which is what most often causes damage to the optic nerve. 

Open-angle glaucoma causes no pain or vision changes in its early stages. Found and monitored through routine eye exams, open-angle glaucoma usually responds well to treatment, which may feature medications or surgical procedures, including laser eye surgery, our specialty. 

Closed-angle glaucoma

Unlike the open-angle version, closed-angle glaucoma develops suddenly and causes eye pain and headaches. The drainage canals become blocked when the angle between cornea and iris becomes too narrow. Pain symptoms can be severe, and your eyes require immediate medical attention to limit or prevent damage to your vision. 

Some people can suffer from optical nerve damage without an increase in eye fluid pressure. This condition is called normal-tension glaucoma. It’s not known why this happens. Glaucoma can also result from a traumatic injury, immediately or years later. Some babies are born with a congenital form of the condition.   

Why glaucoma is considered a ‘silent’ eye disease

Since open-angle glaucoma is the active condition in so many cases, its lack of symptoms gives glaucoma a reputation as a silent disease, one that displays symptoms only after much of the damage is done. The causes of all types of glaucoma aren’t fully understood, and there’s no known cure. 

While there are effective treatments and surgeries to slow the rate of vision loss, it’s a life-long disease that requires regular eye exams to monitor. There’s no singular “best” treatment for glaucoma. Our ophthalmologists provide personalized care to find the ideal solution for you. 

Contact us at IC Laser Eye Care to book an appointment. You can call the nearest of our three offices directly, or you can request a visit online. Your eyesight is too important to lose. Schedule your eye exam today.

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