Glaucoma: Silently Stealing Vision by Dr. Tedd Mitchell

The Washington Times
USA Weekend Section, January 9-11, 2009
Reprinted with permission

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One of the most common causes of blindness occurs when the pressure in the eye slowly rises, damaging one of its most sensitive structures, the optic nerve.  The disorders that cause this are grouped under the name glaucoma.


The eye produces fluid to keep the chamber pressurized.  In order to prevent the pressure from getting too high, the eye relies on “release valves” – one-way exits for excess fluid to escape to maintain a proper balance of pressure.  Glaucoma occurs when the pressure crated by the fluid in the eye rises, exceeding the amount necessary for appropriate function.  Several different forms of glaucoma can cause this pressure imbalance to occur, but all create the same damage to the optic nerve if untreated.


Glaucoma generally doesn’t cause symptoms until it’s advanced.  By the time your vision starts to fail, extensive damage to the optic nerve has occurred.


Anyone can develop glaucoma, but some groups are at higher risk: African-Americans over 30, anyone over 60 and anyone with a family history of glaucoma.


Glaucoma is an illness that silently steals one’s vision.  Don’t take your eyes for granted.  Make plans to get any eye exam to keep them healthy.


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