Today, over 3 million Americans have glaucoma. For this reason, the American Academy of Ophthalmology observes January as Glaucoma Awareness Month.
Glaucoma reduces vision by up to 40 percent before its detection. It is a progressive condition, meaning it becomes worse with time.
If you do not have regular eye examinations and glaucoma goes undetected and untreated, the disease gets worse. This leads to damage to your optic nerve, which impairs your vision permanently.
The attention brought from this awareness month brings the disease is invaluable. This is because when diagnosed in its early stages, the worst glaucoma symptoms can be delayed with proper treatment and management.
Glaucoma patients may be able to preserve their remaining vision for years. Below are facts about glaucoma that can help protect you from it.
Glaucoma Does Not Usually Have Symptoms
Open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type of glaucoma, often does not have symptoms. Loss of vision starts with peripheral vision. You may unconsciously compensate by turning your head while not noticing something is wrong.
You Can Have Glaucoma Even with Normal Eye Pressure
While glaucoma is normally caused by high intraocular pressure, it can also occur even when your eye pressure is normal. This form of glaucoma is called normal-pressure glaucoma.
Patients with this form of glaucoma are thought to be more susceptible to damaged optic nerves. Due to this, despite their normal eye pressure, their optic nerve still degenerates gradually.
The Disease Can Affect Anyone at Any Age
Glaucoma is more prevalent in older adults. Many people assume that the rest of the population should not be concerned about it, but that is not true. Younger adults also develop glaucoma, and some babies are born with it.
Not All Types of Glaucoma are Hereditary
Glaucoma is not always genetic; other risk factors for developing the condition include:
● Severe nearsightedness.
● Medical conditions like high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia, heart disease, and diabetes.
● Long-term use of steroid medications.
● Older adults over the age of 60.
● Being African American, Asian, or Hispanic.
● Eye trauma.
Glaucoma Has No Cure But Treatment Can Slow It Down or Halt Progression
Damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma is irreversible. But lowering the eye pressure can prevent further loss of peripheral vision and more damage to the optic nerve.
The best treatment approach for glaucoma depends on the severity and nature of each case. Taking oral medication, eye drops, laser treatment, and surgery are used to slow or halt further damage from occurring.
For many glaucoma patients, the first treatment options that eye doctors try to lower intraocular pressure are eye drops. This is often also given in combination with oral medication.
Both help to lower eye pressure. They also change the circulation of eye fluid by either increasing the flow from the drainage angle or decreasing fluid production inside the eye.
Trabeculoplasty, a kind of laser treatment for open-angle glaucoma, is used to improve the drainage function in the eye to control intraocular pressure.
Your ophthalmologist will create a new bypass for draining out the eye fluid, lowering your eye pressure. There are many surgical options for treating glaucoma.
Don’t Let Glaucoma Steal Your Vision
The eye doctors at Grand Rapids Ophthalmology are dedicated to helping our patients maintain the best vision possible. We use the most advanced technology for testing and diagnosing glaucoma.
This is followed by comprehensive glaucoma treatment and management to preserve our patient’s sight. If you’re experiencing signs of glaucoma or you have glaucoma, be a part of Glaucoma Awareness Month this January by going for frequent eye examinations to prevent unnecessary loss of vision.