The most typical form of glaucoma is called Chronic Glaucoma or Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). It has been called “The Thief That Blinds In The Night” or “The Silent Thief of Sight” because it does not hurt or cause any other noticeable symptoms until late in the disease. Unfortunately when patients do become symptomatic, so much of their vision has been lost to glaucoma that is hard to improve things. Glaucoma may be the best argument there is for getting routine eye exams; early detection is key.
Roughly 50% of Americans with primary open angle glaucoma do not know that they have the disease.
Glaucoma occurs when eye pressure is too high - like an over inflated soccer ball. There is one structure in the eye that produces a fluid that bathes the internal eye structures with nutrients, and another that lets that fluid out. Pressure builds up when there is too much fluid produced or not enough fluid is allowed to exit the eye (or both). The excess pressure then crushes the optic nerve over time, causing a loss of peripheral vision, and it can even take your central vision if it goes unchecked long enough.
At your glaucoma evaluation, your eye doctor will check your intra-ocular pressure (IOP) and look at the health of your optic nerve. Most patients will have one or more visual field (side-vision) tests per year to monitor for a loss of side-vision. Patients may also be sent to a medical-eye specialty clinic for a full glaucoma workup if necessary.