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How does glaucoma affect vision?

Imagine the windshield wiper reservoir in your car just filling and filling and filling. What do you think will happen? It will burst, right?

Well, that is an example of what happens in one form of glaucoma, called primary open angle glaucoma. A fluid, called the aqueous humor, is released from the anterior chamber and travels to eye tissue, enabling it to function. Then it leaves the eye through the trabecular meshwork, which is a kind of drain that is only one fiftieth of an inch wide. Doctors are not sure why this happens. It may be due to aging, a defect or an immune system issue. What they do know for sure is this. When the fluid cannot drain, that increases the intraocular pressure. If there is too much pressure, cells can die off at the weak point, which is exactly where the optic nerve exits the eye on its way to the brain.There are no symptoms that inform you there is optic nerve damage. The first noticeable sign is diminution of peripheral vision. And, because people can turn their heads, that can be easy to overlook.

Pressure is not the only culprit with glaucoma. Normal-tension glaucoma is believed to occur as a result of the optic nerve receiving reduced blood flow.

Fluid is continuously produced in the eye and drained from the eye. With glaucoma, fluid is overproduced and/or unable to drain. The result is increased inner-eye pressure. This increased pressure can damage an important eye nerve, causing vision loss. If the increase in pressure happens quickly, fast-onset cloudy vision with halos around light may result. If it happens slowly, patients will gradually notice a "tunnel vision" with blurriness at the edges of their vision.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.