When you hear friends or doctors talk about glaucoma, it’s really a collection of conditions with the eye that result in damage to the eye’s optic nerve. Most commonly, it’s caused by an unusually large amount of pressure inside the eye.
Why is it a big deal? Well, it is one of the leading causes of blindness in the US - the leading cause of irreversible blindness in African Americans. Even worse, glaucoma is often asymptomatic until there has been an advanced loss of vision, and once vision is lost, it cannot be regained.
As with most things, early detection and treatment can preserve vision for the individual. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have your eyes examined regularly by a physician and having your intraocular (inner-eye) pressure measured by your eye doctor.
There are two types of glaucoma, primary open-angle and acute angle-closure. The two have very different symptoms:
Primary open-angle glaucoma:
- Loss of peripheral vision in both eyes, very gradual
- Tunnel vision in later stages
Acute angle-closure glaucoma:
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Reddening of the eye
It is suggested that all adults get a comprehensive eye exam beginning at the age of 40, and if you don’t show symptoms every three to five years after. Older than 60 should be screened annually. It is also recommended for African Americans to have periodic eye exams between 20 and 39.
Family history is a risk factor for glaucoma, and your risk increases with age.
When it comes to treating glaucoma, medicated eyedrops are common as a beginning treatment. Oral medications can also be utilized, and surgery is an option should medicative treatment not be effective.
In order to reduce your personal risk of glaucoma, do the smart things:
- Get regular eye check-ups
- Eat a healthy diet (control blood pressure - very important)
- Wear eye protection (don’t allow an external causation/injury cause pressure within your eye)
Dr. Lindsay Rhodes