What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve—which is responsible for vision.
There are two types of glaucoma. Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common type and results in slow loss of vision with no symptoms. Acute angle-closure glaucoma is less common and results in a sudden elevation of pressure and symptoms of pain, redness and nausea.
In its early stages, primary open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms; you won’t have pain or notice vision changes. But it gradually causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, resulting in worsening eyesight and sometimes blindness. The best way to know if you have glaucoma is through routine eye exams at our office. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, treatment can slow down or stop further vision loss.
Currently, the only treatment for primary open-angle glaucoma is to lower the pressure in the eye (known as intraocular pressure) through medication, laser therapy, or surgery.
Risks for glaucoma
Since it’s painless, about half of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it—by the time people notice that something is wrong with their vision, their glaucoma has already caused quite a lot of damage to the optic nerve. Anyone can develop glaucoma, but people at higher risk include those who:
•Are over 50 years old
•Have a family member with glaucoma
•Are of African or Hispanic ethnicity
•Have had a past eye injury or surgery
•Have taken steroid medications, particularly as eye drops
•Have high pressure in their eye
•Have a thin central cornea (the eye’s outermost layer)
•Have an optic nerve with an abnormal appearance
If you aren’t sure whether you’re at risk for glaucoma, talk with your family doctor, nurse practitioner, or call our office and make an appointment. It’s particularly important to get your eyes checked regularly if any of the above risks are true for you.
Early detection and treatment can often slow down or stop vision loss.