As we continue with our most recent blog series, we are going to be discussing our second eye condition found in adults, glaucoma.
Hello again, everyone! We hope as you read this, you remain healthy and safe. As the (online) school year has begun to wind down, have you scheduled your children’s yearly eye appointments yet? Now that the Lowcountry is slowly reopening, our appointments will begin filling up very quickly. You won’t want to miss out or wait longer than you need to get your child into their next eye appointment! The same goes for you! Don’t forget that your eyes need care and love too. Today, we are going to continue with our blog series on eye conditions found in adults. Our second topic of this series is going to be glaucoma, its early warning signs and risk factors, and how you can slow the progression or help prevent blindness or significant vision loss from the disease.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 60. It can happen at all ages, but it is most commonly found in people over the age of 40. At this time, it can’t be prevented. If it is detected early and is treated right away, it is a condition that can be controlled. Surgery and medication can also help slow or prevent continued vision loss. Glaucoma has no warning signs. Unless you are having regular eye appointments, it can go unnoticed until you see a drastic change in your vision as a result of glaucoma. These changes can be mild or very drastic. If you do have the condition and it is caught in time, you will most likely be able to maintain your eyesight. You will also have to continue with your glaucoma treatment for the rest of your life.
There are multiple different types of glaucoma, each with its own scale of symptoms and severity. Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve by extremely high pressure in your eye. The optic nerve sends important signals from the eye to the brain to register and recognize what it is seeing. In its most basic and common form, primary open-angle glaucoma, the fluid pressure inside the eye increases drastically causing damage to the optic nerve over time and can lead to the loss of nerve fibers. Advanced glaucoma can lead to blindness. Right now, according to the American Optometric Association, there are many theories on what causes glaucoma, but the actual cause is still unknown.
The symptoms that you could experience if you are developing or have glaucoma vary. Some appear without symptoms until it is very late in the process Other kinds of glaucoma have very painful and uncomfortable symptoms. The second most common form of glaucoma, acute angle-closure glaucoma, could have symptoms such as:
- Redness of the eyes
- You begin to see halos around lights
- Your vision becomes blurred
- You experience vomiting or nausea
- You experience eye pain
- You have severe headaches
If you have developed the most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, you might experience symptoms such as:
- Patchy or blind spots in either your central or side vision. This will happen frequently in both of your eyes.
- If you’ve reached the advanced stages, you will experience tunnel vision.
Glaucoma can be very serious. To help, there are a few things you can be doing right now to help prevent it or help to slow its process.
- Make sure to wear proper eye protection while working or playing sports. Serious eye damage and injury, that could have been prevented if protection had been worn, could lead to the development of glaucoma.
- If you have already been diagnosed and you are now taking medicine to help slow the process, make sure you take them exactly as prescribed.
- Maintain a healthy diet, a healthy body weight, and exercise regularly.
- Be knowledgeable about your family’s eye health history. It is common for it to be passed down from generation to generation, and glaucoma runs in families. If you know you’re at risk early on, you can begin watching out for it sooner, catching it as quickly as possible if it does appear.
- When you do have an eye examination, don’t pass on getting your eyes dilated. Having dilated eye exams regularly will allow your optometrist to give you a total comprehensive eye exam.
- RISK FACTORS
To help with early detection, there is a list of risk factors that you need to be aware of. Each of these could lead to a higher probability of glaucoma appearing in your eyes.
- If you take steroids, and steroid eye drops for long periods of time, you could be more susceptible.
- Serious eye injury or eye surgery.
- Serious farsightedness or nearsightedness.
- Thin corneas.
- If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sickle cell anemia, you are more likely to develop glaucoma.
- If you have a history of glaucoma in your family.
- Your age: If you’re over the age of 60, be aware that you are at high risk.
- Your race: Glaucoma is more common to appear if you are African American, Asian, or Hispanic.
If you are over 60, have a family history of glaucoma, or any of these high-risk factors, please make sure to visit us often. If you are experiencing any changes in your eyesight or are experiencing any of the symptoms, we have listed above, please contact us. We are here to help and support you during and through this potentially difficult time. As we begin to head back to some sense of normal, continue to stay safe. Until next time, we are here for all of your eye care needs!