If you have glaucoma, you are not alone. In fact, more than 3 million Americans suffer from this eye condition, which occurs when pressure builds up in the eye and damages the optic nerve. In this blog, we discuss what glaucoma is, the warning signs, and the types of treatment.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve, which carries signals from the eye to the brain. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images, so when it is damaged, vision is affected.
Glaucoma usually occurs when the pressure inside the eye becomes too high. This can happen if the eye does not drain fluid properly or if too much fluid is built up in the eye. Glaucoma can also be caused by an injury to the head or eye or by certain medical conditions such as diabetes. Although glaucoma can lead to blindness, most people with glaucoma do not lose their sight completely. With early diagnosis and treatment, many people with glaucoma are able to maintain their vision.
Although glaucoma can occur at any age, it is most common in older adults. There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma, and it usually develops slowly, with no symptoms in the early stages. Angle-closure glaucoma is less common but more severe and can develop rapidly, often with sudden symptoms.
If you have any of the following signs or symptoms, you should see an eye doctor immediately:
- Severe headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Vision blind spots
- Halos around lights
- Eye pain
- Peripheral vision loss
- Redness in the eye
These signs may indicate that you have angle-closure glaucoma, which can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated quickly. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, don't wait to see an eye doctor; make an appointment as soon as possible.
Testing for Glaucoma
When it comes to glaucoma, early detection is essential. It is crucial not to skip yearly eye exams as the early signs of glaucoma are very rare and hard to detect. Glaucoma is usually detected during a comprehensive eye exam. During this exam, the doctor will check for signs of optic nerve damage and elevated intraocular pressure.
At Key-Whitman Eye Center we examine your eye pressure and optic nerves for signs of glaucoma. If glaucoma is suspected, further testing will be needed to confirm the diagnosis. If we suspect glaucoma, we will do a visual field test to see how your peripheral vision has been affected.
We are also able to take a closer look at your optic nerve with a special machine called the OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography). An OCT can capture a picture of your optic nerve and the surrounding nerve fibers to better detect signs of glaucoma.
Once glaucoma has been detected, there are a variety of treatment options available. The most common approach is to reduce the amount of fluid produced by the eye, which helps to lower intraocular pressure. This can be done with medication (such as eye drops), laser surgery, or a traditional surgical procedure known as trabeculoplasty.
In some cases, it may also be necessary to insert a drainage device into the eye in order to help relieve pressure. In any case, it is important to follow up with regular eye examinations and to make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and eating a healthy diet, in order to help slow the progression of the disease. With proper treatment, many people with glaucoma are able to maintain good vision for many years.
For all of your eye care needs and questions, contact Key-Whitman Eye Center at (214) 225-2577! Our team is here to help you manage life with glaucoma.