Glaucoma – Are You At Risk?

Elderly couple in ski gear Glaucoma is an eye condition characterized by a buildup of pressure due to an abnormal flow of fluid in the eye. If the pressure is not regulated, the optic nerve fibers may be damaged and loss of vision may occur.

An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only about half of those are aware they have the disease. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent blindness. Most patients who receive glaucoma treatment live with the disease without ever going blind. However, vision that is lost due to glaucoma cannot be regained, therefore understanding and following your doctor’s treatment plan is critical to your eye health.

There are many factors that may increase your risk of developing glaucoma. These factors include:

  • Family history – According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, individuals with a family history of glaucoma are four to nine percent more likely to develop the disease.
  • High blood sugar or diabetes –Research suggests individuals with diabetes are twice as likely to develop open-angle glaucoma as non diabetics. One study performed between 2001 and 2007 showed that diabetes could increase one’s risk of developing open-angle glaucoma by as much as 35 percent. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the eye disease and leading cause of irreversible blindness.
  • High blood pressure – Hypertension increases risk of developing the disease by 17 percent and individuals with both hypertension and diabetes are 48 percent more likely to develop open-angle glaucoma.
  • History of serious eye injury
  • Age – Most glaucoma patients are adults over 50
  • African or Hispanic ancestry
  • Taking steroid medications
  • Myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • A thin central cornea
  • Not keeping up with regular eye exams
  • Low blood pressure and other conditions that affect blood flow, such as migraines.

Treatment for glaucoma varies based on severity of the disease. Most often, daily eye drops are used to keep pressure in the eye from building up. If eye drops or other medications do not help, your doctor may recommend laser eye surgery for treatment.

The most common laser surgery treatment for open-angle glaucoma is selective
laser trabeculoplasty, which is used to open drainage holes in the eye to improve flow of fluid in the eye and relieve pressure in the eye. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss all treatment options.

If you have glaucoma, your vision is dependent on maintaining regular eye exams and following your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan. By taking your medications daily and keeping regular appointments with your ophthalmologist, you may help save your vision from permanent loss due to glaucoma.

If you have a family history of glaucoma, suffer from hypertension, or are diabetic, contact Key-Whitman today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.

Do you have questions about glaucoma or treatment for glaucoma? Ask us in the comments below or on our Facebook Page!