Glaucoma is a sneaky vision killer for most people affected by the disease. In fact, it’s the top cause of blindness in America. The early stages of glaucoma, in which the center part of the optic nerve starts to die off slowly, often present no noticeable symptoms for most patients affected. By the time a patient notices the loss of vision, the disease has already advanced and is harder to treat. And at this time, there is no cure for glaucoma. There are, however, glaucoma treatments that can slow or stop the progression of the disease so that you can preserve as much of your vision as possible. The most important key in saving your vision from glaucoma is getting a regular test by an experienced glaucoma treatment doctor.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve due to overly-high fluid pressure within the eyeball. When normal drainage of fluid is slowed or stopped, this is when the damage occurs. The optic nerve is the main cable that takes image data back to the brain for processing—it’s an essential element to how you view the world. The optic nerve is very sensitive to pressure, so when the pressure inside of your eye is too high, it can compress and slowly kill the optic nerve.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Most people with glaucoma won’t have any symptoms, at least not in the early or even middle stages of the disease. Usually, symptoms only present in the more advanced stages of the disease. There are also four different types of glaucoma, so the type of symptom may depend on the disease category as well. Advanced symptoms include:
This is the most common of the types of glaucoma. It’s cause by poor drainage of fluid from the eye and symptoms may take years to notice:
- Blind patches in your peripheral or central field of vision in either or both eyes.
- Tunnel vision (advanced disease)
Acute-Angle Closure Glaucoma
This type is more acute; pressure builds up inside the eye very quickly and can lead to blindness very fast. If you have these symptoms, see our glaucoma treatment doctor immediately:
- Headaches and eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurry vision or halos
- Red eyes
Exfoliation Syndrome Glaucoma
Pigment and sloughed-off material from the back of the iris causes whitish material to accumulate on the eye’s lens and can plug up eye drainage, which causes the increased pressure. Laser treatment may be a good option for this type.
This rarer type involves an unnatural backward curvature of the iris, which rubs against the lens, causing pigment to rub off and clog drainage. Nearsightedness may be a risk factor, and this type also responds well to laser treatment.
What Causes Glaucoma?
The underlying causes of glaucoma are still not fully understood by science, but we have been able to uncover several patterns and risk factors that may make you more likely to develop it. But even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, you still run the risk of developing this vision-stealing condition. This is why everyone should have a regular glaucoma test included in their vision exam. Some of the risk factors include:
- High pressure in the eye
- Age (as you get older, your risk for glaucoma increases)
- Genetic risks (Those of African or Asian ancestry seem to run a higher risk, as does anyone of any ethnicity who has family members with glaucoma)
- Thinner corneas
- Previous eye injuries
- Past use of steroids
- Medical history including anemia or shock
This is Why You Need to Get a Regular Glaucoma Check
A person may have glaucoma for years and slowly be losing vision during all that time without even realizing it until a significant portion of the field of vision is gone. Whatever vision is lost to glaucoma cannot be restored. However, the earlier the condition is diagnosed, the better success we can have with glaucoma treatment that can slow or stall the progression of vision loss. This is why every eye exam should include a glaucoma check.
What Does a Glaucoma Test Include?
At Point of View Eyewear, we conduct a thorough eye exam that includes the important 4 eye health measures that can indicate glaucoma:
- Tonometry—Measures the pressure inside of your eye
- Gonioscopy—Detects how fluid drains from the eye
- Ophthalmoscopy—Examines of the condition of your optic nerve
- Perimetry—Evaluates your field of vision to catch symptoms of glaucoma
If your glaucoma test indicates that you have glaucoma, we can provide treatment options to stall the progression of vision loss to the disease. It is important that we continue these regular glaucoma check procedures as treatment continues (throughout the rest of your life) to measure the effectiveness of treatment as well.
Glaucoma Treatment Services in Falls Church
Point of View Eyewear in Falls Church provides a full spectrum of glaucoma treatment services to help patients keep as much of their vision from failing to the disease as possible. Every patient requires an individual diagnosis and treatment plan, but some treatment options include:
- Eye drops taken several times a day
- Medicines in pill form
- Laser treatment
- Eye surgery
With the right type of glaucoma treatment, we can help you maintain your vision for as long as possible.
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