Glaucoma

What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers. When damage occurs, blind spots form in the vision. These go undetected until significant damage has occurred. If the entire nerve is destroyed, the result is blindness. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness.

What are the causes of Glaucoma?
Fluid called aqueous humor circulates in the front portion of the eye. New fluid is made, while the older fluid filters out of the eye. These are not tears. If the fluid has difficulty filtering from the eye, the pressure builds which causes the damage to the nerve. The most common form of glaucoma is called open angle glaucoma. This results from the filter channel gradually becoming less efficient. Typically, there are no symptoms until the later stages, which could be blindness.

Another, less common form of glaucoma is closed-angle glaucoma. This occurs from the iris, the colored part of the eye, pushing against the filtering channel and blocking the outflow of the fluid. This causes the pressure to build. When an attack occurs this form of glaucoma is painful and rapidly causes vision loss.

How is Glaucoma treated?
Once the optic nerve is damaged, the vision loss is not reversible. There are several ways to reduce the pressure, which will protect the nerve from further damage. Eye drops, laser surgery, and actual surgery can be performed.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the back of the eye. This damage is referred to as diabetic retinopathy.

Background diabetic retinopathy causes tiny blood vessels within the retina to leak. This causes swelling and deposits called exudates. Many diabetics have mild background diabetic retinopathy that does not affect the vision. Vision can be affected when theleakage causes swelling particularly in the center part of the retina, known as the macula or if the vessels stop working, causing death to the retinal cells.

In severe cases, abnormal blood vessels begin growing on the retina. This is known as Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. These new blood vessels do not function as normal blood vessels. They often can cause scarring or detachments of the retina. The can also cause bleeding in the gel of the back of the eye, known as the vitreous. If the bleeding is minor a person may only see a few dark floaters. If the bleed is large it might block out the vision. Slowly the blood is reabsorbed. However, if the bleed is large and is slow in reabsorbing, surgery may be recommended to remove the blood.

How is Diabetic retinopathy treated?
The best treatment is to maintain control of blood sugars. Various medications, laser treatments, or surgery may be required to stabilize the retinopathy.