Glaucoma, a complex and potentially vision-threatening condition, is a group of eye disorders characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma typically develops gradually and without noticeable symptoms until significant vision loss occurs. While an estimated 3 million people in the United States are affected by glaucoma, some demographics are more at risk than others. For those at higher risk, regular eye exams are vital for early detection and effective treatment of the condition. Let’s delve into the intricacies of glaucoma, its risk factors, symptoms, and available treatments.
Who is at Risk?
While glaucoma can affect anyone, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing the condition. For instance, individuals with diabetes face a nearly doubled risk of glaucoma. Age and race are also significant determinants, with African Americans and Hispanics having a higher risk of developing the condition.
Additionally, the likelihood of glaucoma rises with age. Data indicates that if you are Hispanic and over 60 years old or African American and over 40 years old, your chances of developing glaucoma are heightened. Lastly, genetics also play a role: a family history of glaucoma increases the likelihood that you will develop it too.
What Are The Symptoms?
Before exploring the symptoms, it's important to note that there are different types of glaucoma. While most forms initially have minimal symptoms, peripheral vision loss is a common indicator that develops gradually over time. Regular eye exams by your eye doctor are essential for detecting glaucoma before symptoms become apparent. In addition to peripheral vision loss, other symptoms may include blurred vision, eye discomfort, increased light sensitivity, difficulty adjusting to darkness, and changes in color perception.
That said, while most types of glaucoma progress similarly and exhibit similar symptoms, there is a specific form known as angle-closure glaucoma, which presents distinct and more severe symptoms than other types. Individuals may experience moderate to severe eye pain, recurring headaches, blurred vision, and even nausea and vomiting. Angle-closure glaucoma constitutes a medical emergency, and if you encounter these symptoms, it’s best to seek immediate medical attention.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. However, early detection and treatment can stop the damage and protect you against further vision loss. Let’s explore the different treatment options:
- Prescription Eye Drops
This is often the first line of defense against glaucoma. Because glaucoma is caused by high pressure inside the eye, these drops work by improving how your eye drains fluids, therefore lowering pressure in the eye.
- Oral Medications
These medications also work to improve the drainage of the eye.
There are a number of different types of surgery, including laser therapy. The team at VisionMD Eye Doctors will be able to advise which option is best for your specific needs.
How VisionMD Eye Doctors Can Help
If you suspect you have glaucoma or have recently been diagnosed, the team at VisionMD Eye Doctors is ready to help you. Our team of eye doctors can help you manage your glaucoma, preserving healthy vision for as long as possible. When necessary, our team can recommend the latest and most effective surgical interventions for your needs.
There are two key facts about glaucoma that you need to remember. The first is that glaucoma can move very slowly and that the best way to detect it early is with regular exams from your eye doctor. The second is that regular eye exams are even more critical if you are Hispanic over 60 or African American over 40, as these demographics are at higher risk of developing glaucoma.
If you are concerned about glaucoma or want to start your regular exams, book an appointment with Dr. Saya Nagori at VisionMD Eye Doctors today.