5 Important Facts About Glaucoma that Could Save Your Vision
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., affecting around 3 million Americans. In order to maintain healthy vision, the eye must properly regulate pressure in the eye by draining excess fluid. Glaucoma occurs when the eye can not sufficiently drain aqueous fluid, causing increased pressure in the eye and irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve can cause permanent vision loss and even blindness. Since January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, we have compiled a list of important facts and information about glaucoma that could help save your vision and inform you about the dangers of this serious eye condition.
1. There may be no warning signs
Often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma often has no early symptoms or warning signs. Vision loss associated with glaucoma can be gradual and may go unnoticed, as it slowly affects peripheral vision. Anyone is at risk for glaucoma, from babies to seniors. The best way to detect glaucoma is during annual eye exams with an ophthalmologist or optometrist.
2. Risk Factors
Although everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma, the following factors may increase your risk for glaucoma:
- Over the age of 60
- Family history of glaucoma
- African-American, Asian or Hispanic descent
- Steroid users
- Previous eye injury
If you are 35 or older and fit into the “high-risk” category, it is recommended that you have a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years.
3. Glaucoma can lead to irreversible vision loss or blindness
There is currently no cure for glaucoma. Although vision loss associated with glaucoma is irreversible, early detection of glaucoma can slow the progression of the disease and prevent vision loss if properly treated. Several treatment options are available to help regulate pressure in the eye and help aqueous fluid drain from the eye, helping to keep ocular pressure in check, and prevent damage to the optic nerve.
4. How is Glaucoma Detected?
During a comprehensive eye exam, there are several tests that can help your doctor detect glaucoma. A fully dilated exam will allow your doctor to more closely examine your optic nerve. A test called tonometry is used to test the pressure in your eye with a puff of air. Measuring the thickness of your cornea and examining the angle of where your iris meets your cornea can also help diagnosis glaucoma. It’s important to provide a through family history, any previous eye trauma, and a comprehensive list of medications to your doctor which can indicate if you are at higher risk for developing glaucoma.
5. Early Detection and Treatment
The best way to prevent or slow vision loss associated with glaucoma is with early detection. Because anyone can be as risk for developing glaucoma and there are often few warning signs, it’s imperative to follow recommended guidelines for routine eye exams. Although there is still no cure for glaucoma, advances in ophthalmology have led to several clinical and surgical treatment options to help glaucoma patients slow the progression of the disease and prevent further vision loss. Common treatments include the use of drops, laser treatments, and the surgical implantation of shunts, stents, or valves. To schedule and annual eye exam and glaucoma screening, call your eye doctor or schedule an exam with one of our glaucoma specialists by calling 800-760-4171.