Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that affects nearly three million Americans, and is the second leading cause of blindness in developing countries. With early diagnosis and proper treatment, it is possible to slow down the damage caused by glaucoma. Your local optometrist at Eyes on Norbeck discusses important things you should know about it.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases caused by increased pressure inside the eyes, which results in damaged optic nerves and progressive vision loss if not treated properly. The two main types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle closure glaucoma (ACG). POAG is more common than ACG and occurs when fluid builds up in the eyes due to an imbalance between fluid production and drainage. This causes internal eye pressure to rise above normal levels over time.
The exact cause of most cases of primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) isn’t known, but the risk factors include:
- Family history.
- Race or ethnicity.
- History of nearsightedness or farsightedness.
- Long-term use of medications like corticosteroids or antibiotics.
What Are the Symptoms Of Glaucoma?
Most people do not experience symptoms during the early stages of glaucoma because there usually aren’t warning signs until later, when permanent damage has already occurred. Glaucoma is characterized by loss of peripheral vision, with tunnel vision or blindness at its later stages. Patients have also reported having headaches behind their eyes or difficulty focusing on objects far away from them. Seeing halos around lights, especially at night, is also a common sign. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting and light sensitivity.
Glaucoma risks increase with advancing age, as well as diabetes mellitus type II and hypertension. Both medical conditions place one at higher risk of developing glaucoma due to its negative effects on blood vessels.
Glaucoma Risk Reduction
At present, there is no known treatment plan that can reverse the optic nerve damage caused by glaucoma. However, there are steps that can be taken that can help reduce risks. A computer vision exam or a comprehensive dilated eye exam can catch early signs of glaucoma, which can help your eye doctor create a management plan.
Healthy lifestyle choices, which includes regular exercise, eating nutritious foods and avoiding smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, can help reduce risks of developing glaucoma. Your eye doctor may prescribe drops or pills as part of a treatment plan. Younger patients who have signs of glaucoma do not undergo risk management right away, as their eyes are still developing.
Whether you need eyeglasses or to have your eyes checked for signs of glaucoma, talk to your local eye doctor at Eyes on Norbeck. Call us today at (301) 238-7199 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve Rockville, MD and the surrounding communities.