Glaucoma is an eye disease that approximately 3 million Americans deal with every day, and is the second most common cause of blindness in the U.S. Adults over the age of 40 with a family history of glaucoma or high eye pressure from conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease are all at a greater risk of developing the disease.
There’s a reason ophthalmologists refer to glaucoma as the “silent thief of sight.” The disease typically has no early signs or symptoms until vision loss begins, and as much as 40% of your vision can be lost without you realizing that you have a problem.
Glaucoma has no initial symptoms or warning signs, and any vision loss that does occur is permanent. Vision can be preserved if glaucoma is discovered at an early stage and treated. However, if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
Essentially, glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve and there are two common types of glaucoma to be aware of—primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma
Primary open-angle glaucoma typically carries no signs or symptoms in the early stage of the disease. Most will not notice any issues until they have already lost some vision. When some vision has already been lost, that is a clear sign that damage has already occurred to the optic nerve. At this point it is crucial to seek care from a glaucoma specialist.
Angle-closure glaucoma usually manifests as an acute attack rather than a progressive deterioration of the optic nerve. These attacks can happen swiftly, but there are some early signs that can alert a patient to seek the assistance of a glaucoma specialist immediately, including:
● Severe pain in the forehead or the eyes
● Sudden, blurred vision
● Seeing halos around lights
● Red eyes
● Frequent headaches
● Nausea and/or vomiting
Prevention Is Key
Rather than waiting for signs or symptoms of glaucoma, the hands-down best way to proactively prevent vision loss from the disease is through routine, comprehensive, annual eye exams. Your ophthalmologist can conduct a simple glaucoma test at your annual eye exam, but if you are concerned about your eyesight or may be more susceptible to the disease due to your family or medical history, it would be a good idea to routinely see a glaucoma specialist.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
No doubt about it, glaucoma can be a debilitating disease, but when caught early it can more effectively be treated through medication. Even if the disease has progressed, there are several surgical treatment options that have been successful. That said, even though there are treatment options to help prevent blindness in glaucoma, it’s most important to stay on top of your eye care with annual comprehensive eye exams.
If you are concerned about your risk for glaucoma or would like to learn more about the risk factors and treatments for the disease, download our free eBook, The Complete Guide To Glaucoma.
Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN, dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye conditions like glaucoma. To meet our doctors and learn more about our specialities, visit our website, give us a call at 865-579-3920, or schedule an appointment online.