Am I at Risk for Developing Glaucoma?
About one million tiny fibers make up the eye’s optic nerve. They send visual signals from the eyes to the brain. To accomplish their job, they need to be healthy at all times. But as with other parts of your body, there is a condition that could affect your optic nerve. Among them is glaucoma, which also happens to be one of the leading causes of blindness. Glaucoma is mostly the result of excessive fluid pressure buildup within the eye.
What Is Glaucoma?
This term refers to a collection of eye conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve. The good health of your optic nerve is essential for good vision. Glaucoma can occur at any age, but it is more common in older individuals.
Unfortunately, many forms of glaucoma do not present any warning signs. The condition develops so gradually that you may not notice a significant change in your vision until it is at an advanced stage.
Since vision loss caused by glaucoma is irreversible, it is vital to undergo regular comprehensive eye exams. If diagnosed early, it is possible to prevent or slow down vision loss. People with glaucoma usually need treatment for the rest of their lives.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
The symptoms and signs of glaucoma will vary depending on the stage and type of your condition. If you have open-angular glaucoma, for example, you will experience patchy blind spots in your central or peripheral vision, usually in both eyes. In the advanced stages, you will likely experience tunnel vision.
On the other hand, you may experience a wide range of symptoms with acute-closure glaucoma. These include eye pain, severe headaches, eye redness, nausea, halos around lights, and blurred vision. Left untreated, this form of glaucoma will eventually lead to blindness. Some people lose sight in at least one eye within two decades even with treatment.
Are You at Risk?
Everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma, but you may be at a higher risk than others. Therefore, it is necessary to undergo a complete eye exam regularly.
Based on the results of your eye screening, your eye doctor will determine how often you need to get follow-up exams. Some of those at higher risk of developing this condition include:
- African Americans
- People over 60
- Hispanics in older age groups
- Those with family members with glaucoma
- People with an eye injury
- Steroid users
Other Risk Factors
Other factors that may increase your risk of developing glaucoma include:
- Having a central corneal thickness of less than 0.5 mm
- Severe myopia
Glaucoma treatment aims to reduce pressure in the eye. Often, the first course of treatment is the regular use of prescription eye drops. Some cases may require laser treatment, systemic medications, or other forms of eye surgery. Currently, there is no definitive cure for glaucoma.
However, early diagnosis and treatment can go a long way in preventing vision loss. Since your condition can change or progress without warning, compliance with regular eye exams and eye medications is essential.
For more on glaucoma, call Maple Eye and Laser Center at 914-948-5157 to reach our office in White Plains, New York.