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GLAUCOMA - A BASIC EXPLANATION

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of related diseases where the optic nerve is being damaged. The nerve fibres progressively die taking away the peripheral or side vision first. Therefore visual loss goes undetected until it is quite advanced.

Glaucoma is the number one cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand and other developed countries.

Your Optic Nerve

At the back of the eyeball, there is a nerve called the optic nerve that carries the signals from the eye to the brain.

Optic-nerve-Diagram

The eye is like a modern digital camera. We take a photograph, we connect the camera to a computer and we down-load the image. For the eye, an image is focused on the retina inside it; the image-message is then down-loaded through the optic nerve to the brain so that we see.

Glaucoma causes irreversible damage to this nerve, like cutting the cable connecting the digital camera to the computer. Unfortunately the optic nerve cannot be repaired

Gl-&-Optic-nerve 

Eye Pressure

Eye pressure is an important risk factor for developing glaucoma. Some eye pressure is essential for good “eye health”, but excessive pressure causes glaucoma.

A healthy eye must have some pressure within it. Without any pressure it would collapse like a balloon with a puncture. So the eye has a pump that produces a very small amount of fluid. That fluid circulates from behind your iris to the drainage channels in front it. If the fluid drains readily then the eye pressure will be low, but if there is resistance to drainage the eye pressure will rise. When eye pressure becomes too high, the delicate structures of the eye can be irreversibly damaged. Some eyes are even damaged by pressure that is within the normal range for the entire population. Treatment for glaucoma is aimed at lowering pressure to prevent further loss of vision.

Eye-Drainage-Diagram

 

Glaucoma is a serious and potentially blinding disease:


Glaucoma is incurable. Damage to the optic nerve is permanent. The damage is progressive: if untreated, it will continue getting worse. Vision loss often goes unnoticed until it is quite serious.

 

However, the condition is far from hopeless:


Glaucoma can be detected by regular check-ups. The disease can be managed to prevent further damage.

 

With timely treatment and good education, people with glaucoma can retain excellent vision their entire life.


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