January is Glaucoma Awareness Month: Here is What You Need to Know
You’ve probably heard of glaucoma – one of several well-known eye diseases that can affect the quality of our vision. Not only do studies estimate that around 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but it is the second leading cause of blindness globally. Nevertheless, much of the vision loss associated with glaucoma can be prevented if it is detected and treated quickly enough.
January is Glaucoma awareness month, and with this in mind, here’s what you need to know about glaucoma and what it means for your eyes and vision.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name used to describe eye conditions that occur when there is too much pressure in the eyes - known as intraocular pressure or IOP for short. When your intraocular pressure is too high, it causes damage to the optic nerve, which is the main nerve pathway between the eyes and brain. When damage affects it, it isn’t able to transmit messages as well as before, and this can lead to problems with your vison.
Glaucoma is a progressive condition, meaning that it will continue to get worse until treatment is provided.
What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Actually detecting glaucoma can be one of the greatest challenges associated with this eye problem. That’s because it usually develops very gradually over a period of months and years, and the first symptoms are very mild. Most people who experience slow-onset glaucoma may start to notice that their peripheral vision isn’t as good as it used to be, but in the majority of cases, glaucoma is detected at a routine eye exam before symptoms occur. Other symptoms of glaucoma include blurred vision and circles of light around bright lights.
Some patients are unfortunate enough to be affected by acute or fast-developing glaucoma. The signs and symptoms of glaucoma appear quickly and include:
Severe eye pain
Tenderness around the eyes
How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
As we know, most cases of glaucoma are detected during comprehensive eye exams. This is because your eye doctor performs a series of tests to assess the health of your eyes, and these can reveal increased intraocular pressure. However, to confirm a diagnosis of glaucoma, your eye doctor will need to perform a few additional checks including:
A tonometry test uses a special tool to measure the pressure inside your eyes.
A dilated eye exam. This is where your pupils are dilated so that your eye doctor can see through your eyes to the structures at the back, in order to check for any abnormalities that could indicate glaucoma (or any other eye diseases).
Visual field testing, to check that your peripheral vision hasn’t been adversely affected.
A test to measure the thickness of your cornea. This is important since the thicker your cornea, the more likely you are to have high IOP levels.
Can Glaucoma be Treated?
Although any vision that you have lost as a result of glaucoma can’t be restored, there are treatments that can prevent your vision from getting any worse. This is particularly important in the case of acute glaucoma since the damage that occurs can happen very quickly.
There are a few different treatments options that can be used to tackle glaucoma. Eyedrops are usually the first course of action, and these work by lowering your IOP. However, they are often combined with other treatments including laser therapy to remove blockages in the drainage channels which could be causing high IOP levels, or a trabeculectomy. A trabeculectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove part of the drainage system of the eyes.
If you are concerned that you may be affected by glaucoma, visit Maple Eye And Laser Center in White Plains, New York. Call 914-948-5157 today.