Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the fluid in the eye does not flow properly, resulting in a buildup of pressure inside the eye. As pressure rises in the eye, optic nerves are damaged, leading to blindness. It is an eye condition that can affect people of any age, but it is often diagnosed in mid to late adulthood, and adults over age 50 are at increased risk of developing the condition.
September is Healthy Aging Month, and Key-Whitman encourages everyone to be aware of age-related eye conditions and care for their eyes as they age.
What Are the Risk Factors for Glaucoma?
There are many factors that may increase your risk of developing glaucoma. These include:
- Family history of glaucoma
- History of serious eye injury
- Adults over 50
- African-American or Latino adults over 40
- Taking steroid medications
- High blood pressure
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Heart disease
How Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?
Glaucoma is one eye condition that does not present early signs or symptoms. Routine eye exams are essential to early glaucoma detection and vision loss prevention. Simple tests may be performed to measure the pressure inside your eye. Glaucoma checks should be performed based on these general guidelines:
- Every two to four years before age 40
- Every one to three years between ages 40 and 54
- Every one to two years between ages 55 and 64
- Annually after age 65
- Every one to two years for people with risk factors for glaucoma
In addition to keeping up with routine eye exams, taking steps to protect your eyes from damage or injury and getting regular exercise can also help reduce your risk of developing glaucoma.
Studies have shown that regular, moderate exercise not only benefits overall health, but can also lower intraocular pressure in the eye, thus preventing damage to the optic nerve. Additionally, eye injuries can cause traumatic or secondary glaucoma. Wearing proper eye protection while at work or playing sports not only protects your eyes from surface injuries, but may save your vision by preventing glaucoma or other more serious eye damage.
Any vision lost due to glaucoma cannot be regained. However, vision loss from the condition can be prevented with proper treatment. Glaucoma treatment options vary depending on the severity and progression of the disease. Initial treatment for glaucoma begins with prescription eye drops to control the pressure in the eye. If the medications do not work, laser eye surgery to improve the flow of fluid within the eye may be required.
Glaucoma, like any eye condition, should not be taken lightly. Because glaucoma does not present any clear warning signs in the early stages of the disease, it is critical that you maintain regular comprehensive eye exams. If the disease is detected during a routine exam, 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.