Before You Even Know You Have It, Glaucoma Can Destroy Your Sight!
A regular eye exam can save your sight!
Glaucoma, which is actually a group of diseases, is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Glaucoma occurs most often when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes (intraocular pressure or IOP) rises, damaging the neurons that form the optic nerve.
With early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss. Treatment currently consists of lowering eye pressure through medications, laser, or surgery.
Studies have shown that early detection and treatment of glaucoma, before it causes major vision loss, is the best way to control the disease. So, if you are in a high-risk group for the disease, have your eyes examined thoroughly every two years by an eye care professional.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
- Family history
- Increased age
- African American heritage
- Increased blood pressure
- Injury to the eye
- Long-term steroid treatment
What are some signs of Glaucoma?
Open-angle Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma has no symptoms in the beginning. It causes no pain. Vision stays normal. It can develop in one or both eyes. Without treatment, patients with open-angleglaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision and may begin missing objects to the side and out of the corner of the eye. Vision will become similar to looking through a tunnel. As the disease progresses, straight-ahead (central) vision can decrease until blindness results. Prompt treatment for early stage, open-angle glaucoma can delay progression of the disease. Regular eye check-ups and screening are essential for early diagnosis and treatment
Chronic Angle-closure Glaucoma: This form of glaucoma also develops slowly. There are no symptoms at first, so patients aren’t aware of it until the damage is severe or they have an attack. Again, regular eye exams and screening are important for diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible
Acute Angle-closure Glaucoma: This is an urgent situation and can cause blindness if not treated immediately. It results from a rapid or sudden increase in the pressure inside the eye.
These are signs of an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack:
- Suddenly blurry vision
- Severe eye pain
- Eye redness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rainbow-colored rings or halos appear around lights
See an ophthalmologist immediately if you experience these symptoms.
Treatments for Glaucoma
Glaucoma has no cure. Vision lost from glaucoma cannot be restored, which is why early diagnosis is so important.
If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly. Dr. Burk is fellowship trained in glaucoma management and treats her patients with eye drops and the Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (available in her office). Occasionally, a trabeculectomy and/or glaucoma tube shunt may be required in advanced cases.
Glaucoma treatments include medicines, laser trabeculoplasty, conventional surgery, or a combination of any of these. While these treatments may save remaining vision, they do not improve sight already lost from glaucoma.