Glaucoma is an eye condition that manifests as damage to the optic nerve. In most types of glaucoma, this damage is caused by increased pressure inside the eye, but in low-tension glaucoma, this damage occurs in the absence of increased intraocular pressure. Here are three things you need to know about low-tension glaucoma.
Why does low-tension glaucoma occur?
Low-tension glaucoma can occur due to your genes. Some people are genetically hypersensitive to the effects of intraocular pressure, so their optic nerves can become damaged at levels that are considered normal. If your parents or siblings have glaucoma, you may also be susceptible to the disease.
Vascular factors can also play a role, such as ischemia (inadequate blood flow) or vasospasms (sudden constriction of your veins). This is a concern for people who have health conditions that lead to these vascular factors, like Raynaud syndrome or autoimmune diseases. Ask your doctor if any of your health conditions can have this effect on your veins.
What are the signs of low-tension glaucoma?
Low-tension glaucoma, like other types of open-angle glaucoma, doesn't present any early warning signs. Most of the time, people with this condition don't notice any changes in their vision and think they're completely fine. This is because the damage to the optic nerve happens very slowly, and the peripheral (side) vision is damaged first. It's only in the advanced stages of the disease, when the central vision is damaged, that people notice symptoms like blurred vision or sight loss.
However, this doesn't mean that there's no way to identify low-tension glaucoma early. During your yearly eye exams, your optometrist will check your optic nerve for signs of damage. This allows your condition to be diagnosed early, before your central vision is affected. Even if you don't think your vision has changed, and you don't need a new glasses prescription, don't skip your yearly eye exam.
How is low-tension glaucoma treated?
The goal of treatment is to lower your intraocular eye pressure by 20 to 30%. Even though your intraocular pressure is technically normal, it needs to be reduced because it's too high for your body. Treatments like medicated eye drops or pressure-reducing surgeries can be used for this purpose.
For some patients, treatments to reduce intraocular pressure aren't enough to stop the progression of the disease. In these cases, calcium channel blockers, which are used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, can be used to increase blood flow to your optic nerve and keep it from becoming damaged.
If you're concerned about low-tension glaucoma, see your optometrist right away for an eye exam. For more information about this disease and others, contact a company like Quality Eye Care.