Glaucoma: What It Is And Who Is At Risk

Glaucoma diagramGlaucoma is the result of a buildup of pressure due to an abnormal flow of fluid in the eye. When the pressure rises inside the eye, it could result in damage to optic nerves. If the pressure is not regulated, loss of vision or permanent blindness may occur. There is no treatment to restore vision that is lost due to glaucoma, so prevention and treatment of the condition are crucial to avoid vision loss.

There are two types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma, affecting an estimated four million Americans. Many of these individuals are unaware they have the disease because vision loss begins with peripheral vision and occurs gradually over many years. In this form of glaucoma, the eye’s drainage canals become clogged, causing a buildup of pressure, which then results in damage to the optic nerve. There are typically no warning signs of the disease until significant vision loss has occurred.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Unlike open-angle glaucoma, in which the angle of the eye where the iris meets the cornea stays open, with angle-closure glaucoma, the angle of the eye may be narrowed or closed. It is the result of blocked drainage canals in the eye, which causes a sudden buildup of pressure in the eye. Angle-closure glaucoma is a rare form of glaucoma and develops quickly. Because it develops quickly, symptoms are noticeable. Immediate treatment should be sought as damage to the eye also occurs very quickly.

Who Is at Risk?

There are many factors that may increase your risk of developing glaucoma, these factors include:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • History of serious eye injury
  • Adults over 50
  • African-American or Latino adults over 40
  • Taking steroid medications
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Heart disease

Glaucoma is a serious disease and should not be taken lightly. Because there may be no clear warning signs of glaucoma, it is critical that you maintain regular eye exams. During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will test for glaucoma. If the disease is detected, your eye doctor will prescribe preventative treatment such as medicated eye drops to help reduce pressure in the eye and avoid permanent vision loss.

Contact Key-Whitman today to schedule a comprehensive eye exam to test your eyes for signs of glaucoma.