The eye is filled with a fluid called “aqueous humor”, responsible for nourishing the lens and other important structures in the eye. The pressure exerted by the fluid inside your eye is called intraocular pressure, IOP.
The aqueous humor is constantly produced and drained at a balanced rate to ensure the health of the lens and cornea. When this drainage becomes blocked, or there is an increase in fluid production, intraocular pressure increases and glaucoma occurs. Over time, this increase in pressure can cause damage to some of the sensitive structures that receive and transmit images in the eye, including the optic nerve. The pressure damage of glaucoma causes a gradual blurring of vision and, if left untreated, can result in total, irreversible blindness.
Initially, someone suffering from glaucoma may notice a gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision, before progressing to a complete loss of peripheral vision so that only a small area of central vision remains. Because there are no symptoms associated with the disease in its early stages, regular eye examinations with your ophthalmologist or optometrist are important.
- Most types of glaucoma are painless, with no feelings of discomfort.
- Glaucoma often affects one eye with more severity than the other, and our binocular visual systems are effective at compensating for defects in one eye.
- Changes to vision caused by glaucomatous damage are usually quite slow; it can be difficult to notice gradual changes.