Glaucoma is an eye condition usually associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) that can damage the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss. It is a chronic disease and symptoms often do not appear until damage has already been done to the optic nerve.
Three million Americans suffer from glaucoma, but only about half of those know they have it, underscoring the importance of annual comprehensive eye exams to detect eye conditions like glaucoma before vision is impaired. Education about this eye disease is essential in helping to prevent vision loss. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about glaucoma.
Who is at risk? There are several factors that may increase your risk of developing this eye disease, including:
Age over 40
African American or Hispanic/Latino descent
A relative with glaucoma
Higher than normal eye pressure
History of eye trauma
Thinner than normal corneas
High blood pressure
What are the types of the disease? Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form, but there are other types of the disease, including low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, congenital glaucoma, and secondary glaucomas. To ready more about these types, click here.
How is glaucoma detected? Glaucoma can be detected during your comprehensive eye exam with simple tests to measure eye pressure. If glaucoma is suspected, your doctor will look for damage to the optic nerve and perform a visual field test to measure the amount of peripheral vision loss.
Can glaucoma be prevented? Unfortunately there is no prevention for glaucoma, early detection through routine comprehensive eye exams and treatment can help slow progression of the disease. Be sure that your eye doctor is aware of any family history of glaucoma.
How is glaucoma treated? Effective treatments for glaucoma can slow the progression of the disease and damage to the optic nerve. Treatment for glaucoma may include:
Prescription medications or eye drops
Selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT) to allow the eye to drain more fluid, thus decreasing pressure within the eye
iStent, which works like the stents used to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Does glaucoma cause blindness? If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, it’s essential that you follow your eye doctor’s treatment plan, including taking any prescribed medications, to help prevent complete vision loss. Treatment can slow the progression of the disease, but there is no cure for glaucoma.
Can damage from glaucoma be reversed? Damage to your eyes from glaucoma cannot be reversed. Once vision is lost, it cannot be regained. Again, emphasizing the need for early detection through routine eye exams.
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection and treatment can decrease pressure in the eye, slowing progression of damage to the optic nerve. Contact us today to schedule your appointment for a routine eye exam.