What is glaucoma? Glaucoma is a condition in which the fluid in the eye does not flow normally resulting
in high pressure inside the eye. When pressure rises inside the eye, optic
nerve damage and permanent blindness may result if the high pressure is
not controlled. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is
the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Often referred to
as “the thief sneak of sight”, as much as 40 percent of vision
can be lost before a person even notices. According to the Glaucoma Research
Foundation, it is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma
and are unaware.
Who is at risk? While there are virtually no symptoms, one of the best ways to prevent
vision loss is to identify the factors that may put you at a higher risk
of developing glaucoma. These factors include:
A family history of glaucoma. Family history increases risk of glaucoma four to nine times. The most
common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, is hereditary.
Age. The risk of glaucoma increases with age. Everyone over 60 is at risk of
Increased intraocular pressure (IOP). Elevated intraocular pressure increases the risk for optic nerve damage
Medical conditions.Diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and hyperthyroidism are all
conditions that increase your risk for developing glaucoma.
Nearsightedness. Those who are nearsighted may be more likely to develop glaucoma.
If you identify with any of these risk factors for glaucoma, you should
schedule a yearly eye exam with full dilation to prevent unnecessary vision loss.
What are symptoms of late stage glaucoma? The two main types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and
angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma and has few early
warning signs before long-term vision damage has occurred. This form of
glaucoma develops slowly, and noticeable signs of vision loss may not
appear for many years. If open-angle glaucoma has already progressed you
may experience the following symptoms:
- Gradual decline of peripheral vision in both eyes
- Tunnel vision (if left untreated)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is imperative that you
see an ophthalmologist immediately because it is usually a sign that the
disease has made significant advancements.
Angle-closure glaucoma develops quickly with more noticeable symptoms.
These symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Sudden vision loss
- Severe eye or head pain
- The appearance of halos around lights
- Nausea or vomiting
Because damage occurs quickly with angle-closure glaucoma, it is important
to seek immediate medical attention. If you have experienced any of these
symptoms, schedule an appointment to have your eyes checked before it’s too late.
What can I do to prevent glaucoma? The best way to prevent glaucoma is by assessing your risk, and seeing
your ophthalmologist regularly for a comprehensive eye exam. It is crucial
to get checked for glaucoma in order to catch it before it becomes untreatable.
Once vision is lost, blindness is permanent. Several tests can be done
to diagnose glaucoma.
Key-Whitman Eye Center treats glaucoma and can answer any questions you might have about diagnosis,
treatment, and prevention of this disease. Schedule your
comprehensive eye exam today with our easy-to-use patient access or call
What can I do to raise awareness about glaucoma? January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Here are some ways to get the word
out about glaucoma and encourage action towards early detection for others:
- Talk to your friends and family about glaucoma. Don’t keep your glaucoma
a secret, and do what you can to help others who either share the disease
or have little knowledge of its serious affects.
Refer people you know to
www.keywhitman.com/glaucoma so they can get information and stay educated on ways to prevent glaucoma.
Glaucoma Research Foundation is a national non-profit organization funding
innovative research to preserve vision and find a cure for glaucoma. You
can make a difference.