Ask An Ophthalmologist: Why Is Glaucoma Called The Silent Thief of Sight?
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in the U.S, affecting an estimated 3 million Americans. Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, which connects the eyeball to the brain. Over time, this optic nerve damage causes permanent vision loss or blindness.
Because the disease has no early signs or symptoms until vision loss begins, glaucoma is often referred to as the “silent thief of sight.” Once the disease has advanced to the point that your vision is impaired, it’s usually too late to prevent or reverse vision loss. Glaucoma can affect anyone at any age, but those at the highest risk are people over age 40, people with a family history of glaucoma, and those with high eye pressure.
As the disease progresses, glaucoma may cause symptoms, such as:
- Frequent mild headaches
- Increased difficulty with night vision
- A noticeable loss of peripheral vision
- Frequent redness in one or both eyes, often accompanied by blurred vision or pain
Waiting for symptoms to appear or monitoring eye pressure is not sufficient for preventing vision loss from glaucoma. Only a comprehensive exam—including dilation—is effective in evaluating the optic nerve for signs of damage from early stage glaucoma. Fortunately, glaucoma tends to develop slowly, so if caught before any early symptoms show it’s possible to begin treatment to help preserve your vision.
It’s recommended that anyone over the age of 35, particularly those with a family history of glaucoma, adhere to annual comprehensive eye examinations. If glaucoma is detected, vision loss may be prevented through treatments such as medications or surgery.
At Baptist Eye Surgeons, we have vast experience with a wide range of eye disorders, including the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.
With offices in Knoxville, TN and Morristown, TN, Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice dedicated to providing quality eye care to patients whose needs range from routine comprehensive eye examinations to complex eye surgeries. To learn about our specialities and our doctors, visit our website. We also invite you to schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted eye surgeons in Knoxville or Morristown, or call us at 865-579-3920.