Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States. This common eye disease currently affects more than 3 million Americans, with the vast majority of them being over the age of 40.
Glaucoma is the name used to describe a group of eye conditions that happen due to damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the primary nerve that runs between the brain and the eyes, carrying messages to tell us what we can see. The health of the optic nerve is essential for good vision. However, damage can occur when the amount of pressure inside the eye becomes too great.
Glaucoma is nearly always caused by an accumulation of fluid inside the eye, which increases the pressure within it (known as intraocular pressure). However, in rarer cases, glaucoma can be caused by a blunt or chemical injury to the eye or a severe eye infection.
It’s not known why some people develop glaucoma and others don’t, although it is thought to run in families. There are also some other risk factors for developing glaucoma. These include:
Being over the age of 40
Being nearsighted or farsighted
Having diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes
Taking steroid medications
Suffering from a prior eye injury
Having a thin cornea
Taking certain medications for seizures and bladder control
Having high blood pressure, heart disease, or sickle cell anemia
If your eye doctor at Look! Optometry believes that you are at greater risk of developing glaucoma, you may be asked to attend comprehensive eye exams more regularly.
Glaucoma is a progressive condition. This means that without treatment, it will continue to get worse. As a result, the symptoms that you are experiencing will also get worse, putting your eyesight at risk. Any vision loss as a result of glaucoma is permanent, so it’s essential that you start treatment as soon as it is diagnosed.
There are two different types of glaucoma, known as open-angle and closed-angle. Open-angle glaucoma accounts for around 90% of cases and symptoms develop very slowly, over a period of months and years. In most cases, it doesn’t cause any pain, and patients are only diagnosed after a comprehensive eye exam where their eye doctor can detect the condition. The only symptom that you are likely to develop is a loss of peripheral vision.
Closed-angle glaucoma is much rarer but develops very suddenly and causes rapid vision loss. Other symptoms associated with closed-angle glaucoma include severe eye pain, seeing halos around lights, redness of the eyes, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Closed-angle glaucoma is an eye emergency, and you should seek treatment right away!
Fortunately, some treatments can be used to lower the pressure in your eyes and prevent any further damage to your vision caused by glaucoma. Your eye doctor will recommend the best type of treatment based on your individual needs, and it’s not uncommon for patients to need to try several options to find a treatment, or combination of treatments, to find the one that works best for them.
In the case of open-angle glaucoma, treatment may include eye drops and oral medications as the pressure can be reduced more slowly. Closed-angle glaucoma requires rapid treatment, and this could involve laser surgery to open up the drainage from the eye so that pressure can drop more quickly.
For more information about how glaucoma is treated, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Visit Look! Optometry today and Make An Appointment Online or call us at (310) 796-5665 to schedule an appointment to talk to us about your concerns.