Save Your Vision: Identifying Glaucoma Symptoms Early

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 10-Jan-2012

GlaucomaWhat 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 developing glaucoma.
  • Increased intraocular pressure (IOP). Elevated intraocular pressure increases the risk for optic nerve damage and glaucoma.
  • 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 855-600-7296.

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 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. Donate today.
Categories: Glaucoma
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