What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a name given to a number of eye conditions that affect the optic nerve — which is the pathway between the brain and the eye. In the US alone, it affects around 3 million people and 6 million people worldwide. It is a disease that can affect anybody, regardless of age, race, or gender.
Protect yourself and others by learning more about glaucoma. Keep reading to learn more from our team at Key-Whitman Eye Center.
How Does Glaucoma Affect the Eyes?
Most patients who suffer from glaucoma experience high pressure within the eye due to irregular fluid flow, which can lead to serious damage to the optic nerve and even blindness. There are multiple types of the disease, with each having different signs and dangers for people based on race, sex, and age.
The optic nerve gets damaged because of an increase in internal eye pressure (IOP). When the optic nerve's condition is left untreated and worsens, a victim might become blind within a few months or years. However, early detection can prevent further consequences. In some cases, the disease tends to be genetic and may be inherited later in life. Ensure that you visit your eye doctor to help you preserve your vision.
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
A medical professional can help you understand the types and how vulnerable you are to glaucoma. The condition can only be diagnosed by an eye exam. With one percent of Americans living with the condition, a step toward awareness is essential.
Common Signs of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is often referred to as the 'silent thief of sight,' because its most common type does not usually have symptoms until it has developed to a further stage when vision impairment is apparent. Most people have no idea that they have the condition until it's too late.
Some of the advanced signs of glaucoma include:
- Decrease in contrast sensitivity.
- Loss of side vision.
- Eye pain.
- Seeing halos around light.
- Redness in the eye.
- Vomiting or upset stomach.
- Vision loss.
Without treatment, the disease will worsen, showing more symptoms, with one being a permanent loss of vision. People with this advanced condition have vision that looks like looking through a tunnel. The central vision, if left unattended, may also worsen. For this reason, it’s necessary to see your eye doctor on a regular basis and follow their recommendations for returning for follow-up and treatment.
Glaucoma can affect people of all ages, though those above 40 are the most vulnerable to developing the condition. Additionally, the illness tends to affect individuals of a particular descent, like the African American population, in which young adults and teens have a greater likelihood of early development.
You might be at risk of developing glaucoma if:
- You are over 40.
- There is a history of the condition in your family.
- You are farsighted or nearsighted.
- You have poor vision.
- You have diabetes.
- You take certain steroid drugs such as prednisone.
- You use certain medications for seizures or bladder control or some OTC cold remedies.
- You have high blood sugar.
- You have injured your eye or eyes.
- You have smaller corneas than usual.
- You have certain medical conditions such as sickle cell anemia, diabetes, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), heart disease, or high blood pressure.
- You have high eye pressure (intraocular pressure).
- You have been using corticosteroid medications like eye drops for a long period.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait for Symptoms
The American Optometric Association recommends getting your eyes checked every year. Worsening symptoms including permanent loss of vision can be prevented if conditions like glaucoma are found early. Waiting for symptoms to develop will make the condition worse.
The Dangers of Untreated Glaucoma
There are several people who have glaucoma and may not be aware. This is why doctors recommend annual eye exams to reduce the chance of the illness getting worse. As said before, it is important to understand that glaucoma develops silently and does not show any symptoms. It does not cause discomfort or pain during the early stages.
Since glaucoma is a progressive disease, once a doctor concludes that you have the condition, treatment should take place immediately. If left untreated, the condition worsens with high pressure affecting the optic nerve. This results in impaired or damaged vision and cannot be reversed. In the long term, this will lead to blindness.
If needed, our team at Key-Whitman Eye Center will prescribe eye drops that help to lower eye pressure. These must be used exactly as prescribed for the best results. After a few weeks of beginning the new medication, we will have you return to repeat pressure measurements and see how you are tolerating your new medication.
Glaucoma Testing in Dallas
A comprehensive eye test will help assess the presence of the problems and the risks for glaucoma. Managing your glaucoma is a lifelong process, and our team is here to help.
At Key-Whitman Eye Center, we provide award-winning services for our valued patients, supplemented by years of experience. All our eye doctors in Dallas are board-certified either by the American Board of Ophthalmology or the American Board of Optometry.
For more information about our treatment options for glaucoma, contact us at (214) 225-2577 to schedule your eye exam at one of our seven office locations.