Glaucoma: How Smoking Increases the Risk
Jul 28th, 2016 - Blog

The world is full of beautiful images and vibrant colors. During our early years, colors seem illuminated and crisp. As we age, these colors become less and less vibrant due to the effects of aging. As we age, we become more susceptible to glaucoma, cataract, macular degeneration, and a variety of many other eye diseases that will affect the way you see images and colors.

What is Glaucoma:

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerves within the eyes. The optic nerves becomes damaged when fluid builds up within the eye, which will cause the eye pressure to rise. The optic nerve is located within the eye, connected to the retina. It is a thin layer of light-sensitive tissue that lines the inside of your eyes which is made of multiple layers of nerve fibers. The optic nerve plays a significant role that sends signals from your retina to your brain, creating the images that you visually see. The eyes contain a clear liquid named Aqueous Humor, which circulates around the eye to keep a consistent eye pressure. With Glaucoma, the Aqueous Humor does not circulate properly throughout the eye, causing rising eye pressure. It’s estimated that approximately three million Americans alone have glaucoma. Glaucoma is famous for being the leading cause of blindness for those who are above the age of 60.

Smoking: How it increases Risk for Glaucoma

Smoking is widely known as one of the main causes of heart disease and lung cancer. What many do not know is that smoking is also one of the leading causes of vision loss. Recent studies have shown that smoking increases the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and dry eye syndrome. The eyes can heal from smoking damage, however; the healing process is very slow. After quitting, every five years the risk can drop by 5 percent for age-related eye diseases. Nicotine, the main substance within cigarettes, constricts blood vessels which significantly slows the aqueous and restricts the amount of blood flow to the optic nerve. While smoking the intraocular pressure rises and toxins enter the body. These toxins circulate throughout the body and can cause oxidative damage to the optic nerve. These factors contribute to the formation of Glaucoma and Glaucoma damage.

Glaucoma Treatment:

Glaucoma can be treated, but the vision loss from Glaucoma cannot be reversed. There are three main treatments for Glaucoma: eye drops, medication, or laser eye surgery.

1) EYE DROPS:

Specific eye drops are designed to lower the eye pressure. The eye drops are absorbed through the bloodstream which is why it is essential to inform your doctor of any medications you are taking.

2) MEDICATION:

When eye drops fail to show results, specific medication can be used to significantly drop the eye pressure and decrease the production of fluid within the eyes.

3) LASER EYE SURGERY:

This option of Glaucoma treatment has become increasingly popular as an intermediate step between medication and traditional surgery. The procedure takes approximately 10 – 15 minutes long, and is relatively painless. A laser beam is used to focus on the eye’s drainage system and subtly changes it so that the aqueous fluid is able to pass through smoother.

There are a wide variety of treatments for Glaucoma, and each is catered towards a patients specific needs. The treatments listed are a select few that are most commonly used. Depending on the intensity of the Glaucoma, and the patient’s eye health, a specific treatment path will be advised. To better understand your Glaucoma, it is recommended to see a doctor for a comprehensive eye exam for a diagnosis.

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