Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness around the world. The good news: there are treatment options for glaucoma!
Early detection and treatment can help you reduce vision loss from glaucoma. Keep reading for some glaucoma facts you need to remember!
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve of the eye. Damage to the optic nerve results in diminished vision and blindness.
The optic nerve connects the retina to the brain so that we know what we are looking at. It's made up of more than one million nerve fibers. A healthy optic nerve is essential for clear vision.
High Eye Pressure and Glaucoma
You know that test at the eye doctor where you set your chin on a chin rest and a technician aims a puff of air into your eye? This is how your optic pressure is measured.
High eye pressure is a major risk factor when it comes to the development of glaucoma.
Not every person with increased pressure of the eye will develop glaucoma. Every person is unique in how much optic pressure is normal for them.
The deciding factor is how high your optic pressure can be before damage to the the optic nerve occurs.
How do you know what your “normal” is for optic pressure? It is impossible to figure this out on your own.
To know what your normal level is for optic pressure, your eye will perform a comprehensive eye exam.
Some people develop a form of glaucoma called normal- or low-tension glaucoma. This can occur even without increased optic pressure.
High Blood Pressure
Another factor that plays a role in the development and risk of glaucoma is blood pressure. If your blood pressure is above a safe level, your risk of developing glaucoma increases.
If you have high blood pressure and take medications to lower it, take them as directed!
Who is at Risk for Developing Glaucoma?
The short answer is everyone. But there are those who are at higher risk of developing glaucoma. These include:
- Those of African-American descent over the age of 40
- Anyone with a family history of glaucoma, regardless of racial background
- Any person over the age of 60, with an emphasis on Mexican-Americans over the age of 60
Glaucoma Symptoms and Glaucoma Treatment
Open-angle glaucoma does not present with symptoms in its early stages. It's imperative that you continue to see your eye doctor for regular eye exams.
As this condition progresses, symptoms can include:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- tunnel vision
- Diminished direct vision when looking straight ahead
Glaucoma treatment options:
- Prescription medicine
- Conventional surgery
- Laser eye surgery
If you are not at a heightened risk of developing glaucoma, you should still have an eye exam every year. This becomes even more important when you are sixty or older.
This is the time when your risk of developing glaucoma increases.