About Glaucoma

There is fluid in your eye called aqueous humor that helps maintain the shape of the eye and provide necessary nutrients. It circulates, flowing in from ducts in the area around the lens and out between the lens and the iris, maintaining the proper level of pressure in the lens. When the drainage channels are blocked, the fluid builds up, creating too much pressure, resulting on primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common kind.

Primary open-angle glaucoma is painless, but it can rob someone of their sight, and it happens so gradually it may not even be noticeable until it’s too late. The damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible even once treatment has started, so it’s important to get regular eye examinations. That is the only way to detect the condition while it is still easily treatable and before too much vision is lost.

Possibly one of the best known treatments for glaucoma, in certain circles, is medical marijuana. While it does relieve the pressure, the effect fades with the others after a few hours. Eye-drops and oral medications offer longer term relief, as can relaxation techniques, with medicine or by themselves. Scientists recently developed a contact lens that dispenses glaucoma medication, so patients don’t have to remember the drops or work to get the proper dose. In some cases, surgery may be needed to clear the blocked channels and let the aqueous humor flow out of the eye.

Because the damage can’t be reversed, glaucoma prevention is important, particularly in people who are especially susceptible, such as African Americans, people with a family history of glaucoma, people with type 2 diabetes, or anyone over 60. Steroid use can lead to glaucoma. This can’t always be avoided, but if you are at risk, talk to your doctor about an alternative to steroids for asthma or auto-immune disease. Similarly, there appears to be a connection with certain types of oral contraceptives. Studies have linked some surprising things to the development of glaucoma. People who consume caffeine seem to be at increased risk of the condition, though the precise mechanism is not clear. People who already have glaucoma may find it getting worse if they sleep on one side, in the lower eye.

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