Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that cause progressive damage to the eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits images from the retina to the brain.
Blind spots start to develop in the field of vision if a significant number of nerve fibers are damaged. Most people don’t notice the blind spots until there’s significant damage. If left untreated, loss of vision may occur leading to permanent blindness.
Risk Factors of Glaucoma
Glaucoma often occurs in people over 40 years of age, although an infantile or congenital form of glaucoma exists.
Hispanics over 60 years of age, people with a family history of glaucoma, and people of African descent over age 40 are at a high risk of developing glaucoma. Other risk factors include nearsightedness (myopia), steroid use, a history of severe anemia or shock, thin cornea and using medications that increase pressure in the eyes.
Recent research findings at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center revealed that individuals with hypertension and diabetes may also have an increased risk of developing open-angle glaucoma. People with this form of glaucoma rarely become aware of the condition until significant loss of vision has occurred as it develops slowly and usually without any symptoms.
A rapid increase in pressure may result in an abrupt case of a less common type of glaucoma, acute angle-closure glaucoma. Immediate medical attention is crucial as severe loss of vision can occur within a short time. Its symptoms may include redness of the eye, blurred vision, seeing colored rings around lights, severe eye pain, and nausea.
Can Glaucoma Be Cured?
Glaucoma has no known cure, but if diagnosed and treated early, it can be controlled. Surgery or medication can slow or prevent further loss of vision. Treatment will depend on the severity and nature of each case. Regardless of the type of glaucoma, it’s important to go for regular eye examinations.
How Vision Loss Occurs
Glaucoma will usually occur in both eyes, but fluid pressure often starts to build in one eye. In most cases, side vision is affected first, so the change in vision may be so small that it’s difficult to notice. With time, central(direct) vision is also lost.
What to Expect During Glaucoma Examinations
Regular glaucoma check-ups should include two routine painless eye exams-ophthalmoscopy and tonometry. If the optic never looks unusual or eye pressure is not in the normal range, then additional glaucoma exams may be done.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing glaucoma can be tough. The most crucial factor is protecting your sight. Doctors look at several factors before making any decisions about treatment. If diagnosis and or treatment of your condition is particularly difficult, you may be referred to a glaucoma specialist.
Once detected, glaucoma usually requires professional long-term care. Keeping your eye pressure under control is critical. You must follow your treatment plan religiously to help control your eye pressure as this will prevent further damage to the optic nerve and prevent sight loss. Many people assume that glaucoma is cured when eye pressure has been lowered to safe levels via surgery or medication. Regular checkups are still needed even after medications or surgeries to control eye pressure.
Some people with glaucoma have low vision. This means they may have problems doing routine things even when using contact lenses or glasses. This may range from loss of the ability to see shades of the same color to reduced visual acuity. There are plenty of resources and products such as computer text enlargers, color lenses and magnifiers that help people with low vision.
Many elderly people don’t know that glaucoma may have no symptoms and are unaware of the importance of eye checkups. You can help by encouraging them to have their optic nerves and eye pressure checked regularly.Read more