When they think about going blind, most people imagine waking up one morning without sight or having an accident that leaves them without their vision. In the United States today, however, most blindness is caused by a much less dramatic culprit: glaucoma, a complex disorder in which nerve damage leads to gradual loss of vision.
Thankfully, early detection and effective glaucoma treatment can now give patients their lives back.
When left untreated, glaucoma frequently results in vision loss or even blindness. But since it is difficult to detect, few people who suffer from glaucoma know it. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimate that only half of the 3 million American adults with glaucoma are aware of their condition.
While glaucoma is not completely curable, there are a variety of highly effective glaucoma treatments available to patients. Read on to learn more about how you can protect yourself against this life-altering disease.
What Does Glaucoma Look Like?
Although there are many different forms of glaucoma, all eventually lead to impaired vision.The most common form of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma, a hereditary disease in which a clog forms deep inside the eye’s drainage system and erodes vision.
Many people who suffer from primary open-angle glaucoma do not notice the symptoms until it is too late. However, if diagnosed early, this form does respond to glaucoma treatment.
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the drainage canal is blocked at its entrance and restricts the movement of the iris. Sufferers of angle-closure glaucoma often experience headaches, pain, blurry vision, nausea, and auras around bright lights. Unlike open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure can usually be treated with a combination of surgery and ongoing glaucoma treatment.
There are rarer types of glaucoma. These include pigmentary glaucoma, in which pigment granules from the iris gradually clog the eye’s drainage canals,and the traumatic glaucoma that sometimes appears after an injury to the eye. Many of these forms can be treated by frequent checkups, medication, and laser or conventional surgery.
Am I At Risk For Glaucoma?
Some people have an increased risk of developing certain types of glaucoma. It is especially important for these high-risk patients to carefully monitor their eyes’ health and visit their optometrist on a regular basis.
Here are a few of the demographics are most likely to develop glaucoma:
- People who have an immediate family history of open-angle glaucoma
- People over the age of 60 are six times more likely to suffer from glaucoma
- People of African-American or Asian descent
- People who have suffered a traumatic eye injury, such as a bruise or puncture to the eye
- People who already suffer from high myopia or hypertension in the eye
If you belong to one of these groups, you should schedule a complete eye exam each year to closely monitor the health of your eyes. Detecting glaucoma and finding a glaucoma treatment early is the best way to avoid the debilitating symptoms of this disease.
Have Questions About Glaucoma?
Glaucoma can be a difficult subject to talk about, especially if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms. Don’t let a reluctance to go to the optometrist negatively impact your future. Taking care of your eyes now can protect your vision and ensure that you see all of life’s most precious moments.
Dr. Leonard and Dr. Suarez can thoroughly inspect your eyes and evaluate your risk of glaucoma. Then they can recommend the glaucoma treatment to suit your condition and lifestyle. Contact their team of experienced eye care professionals to learn more!