Glaucoma is a family of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve. For unknown reasons, sometimes the pressure inside the eye increases and this can place stress on the optic nerve. In some cases, the elevated pressure can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss.
Unlike cataract-related vision loss which is treatable with surgery, glaucoma-related vision loss is irreversible. In most cases, glaucoma does not exhibit symptoms or pain until noticeable vision loss has occurred. One of the earliest symptoms of glaucoma is reduced peripheral vision or limited visual field.
A painless disease that slowly robs you of your vision sounds scary, doesn’t it? Glaucoma is aptly nicknamed the “sneak thief of sight” because it is difficult to detect and diagnose. While there is no way to prevent glaucoma, there are tests to help diagnose the condition. Your best defense against glaucoma is to visit your eye doctor annually for a comprehensive eye exam. Regular eye exams can provide an early diagnosis and minimize vision loss.
Even if you can’t prevent glaucoma, you can assess your risk for developing the disease. You are more likely to develop glaucoma if you are over 40, African American or have a family history of the disease. Conditions like diabetes, eye injury or eye tumor can also put you at higher risk. If you are at risk for developing glaucoma, your doctor may want to examine your eyes more often than someone else at your same age who is not at risk.
If you have received a glaucoma diagnosis, your eye doctor will discuss treatment options based on your age, medical history and advancement of the disease. Some cases
of glaucoma can be managed with eye drops, pills or conventional surgery. There are also procedures that use lasers to help lower inner eye pressure. Finally, there are exciting, emerging glaucoma treatments like shunts and stents that reduce pressure to a safe level and prevent vision loss.
Make an appointment today for a full eye examination. It’s the best way to prevent eye disease and keep your vision clear and healthy for years to come.