Glaucoma, often called the thief of sight, is a disease that strikes without any obvious symptoms. A person usually doesn't even know it's there until serious vision loss has occurred. Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. Once vision has been lost, it cannot be restored.
The good news is that glaucoma can be detected early-before there is any loss of vision.Treatments exist that can lower intraocular pressure (IOP), one of the major risk factors for glaucoma is an eye disease that involves damage to the optic nerve which sends visual signals to the brain. No one knows exactly what causes this damage, but pressure buildup in the eye is proven to be one of the major risk factors associated with glaucoma. When the optic nerve is damaged by high IOP, some signals from the eye aren't transmitted to the brain. This can result in visual field loss and, if not managed, could eventually lead to blindness.
Could you be at risk for glaucoma?
Only your eye doctor can help you find out, but some people are at greater risk than others. Studies have proven that anyone who meets one or more of the following criteria is at increased risk:
- Over the age of 40
- Family history of glaucoma
- Abnormally high intraocular pressure (IOP)
- African American
- Regular, long-term use of steroids/cortisone
- Previous eye injury
If you have any of these risk factors, it is important that you receive regular eye checkups. Early detection and treatment of glaucoma can slow the disease progression and help prevent blindness.
How can I prevent glaucoma?
The best way to control glaucoma and preserve vision is through early detection and treatment.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness and is estimated to affect 1 of every 50 adults. Glaucoma is a "silent disease" which damages the optic nerve and causes blind spots in the field of vision. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness will occur.
What causes glaucoma?
Glaucoma is usually caused by an increase in the fluid pressure in the eye.
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms associated with open angle glaucoma, the most common type, are unnoticeable and can only be detected by an eye care professional. If undetected, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss. Those with acute narrow angle glaucoma experience more noticeable symptoms such as blurred vision, severe pain, nausea and halos around lights.
How is glaucoma treated?
You must be checked by your eye care professional for early detection. With early detection and treatment, glaucoma can almost always be controlled and vision preserved. Once vision has been lost, it cannot be restored. Remember, prevention is the best medicine!
Vision loss from glaucoma is permanent but can usually be prevented with early detection and treatment. Regular eye examinations are important for those persons over the age of 35.
To schedule an eye examination with our physicians, please call Andersen Eye Associates at (989)797-2400.
Andersen Eye Associates proudly serves the Greater Saginaw region including Flint, Frankenmuth, Bay City, Midland, Bridgeport, Bad Axe, Mount Pleasant, and surrounding areas.