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What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition that is categorized by a collective array of symptoms that could eventually lead to irreparable damage to the optic nerve and result to vision loss. Most of the time, abnormally high intraocular pressure in and around the eye causes this condition. Glaucoma is currently known as one of the leading causes of blindness since it can affect the patient’s vision so surreptitiously that, sometimes, the symptoms are not immediately noticeable until the condition is already in its advanced stages. With glaucoma, what starts out as blurry vision could lead to gradual and permanent vision loss especially if the symptoms are not diagnosed and treated early on. Identifying the symptoms at the earliest stages of the condition is key to preventing extensive optic nerve damage. This is one of the main reasons why Dr. Forgey constantly advises his ophthalmic patients in Lincoln, NE to get regular eye exams to make sure that the eyes are healthy and that intraocular pressure is normal.
How do I know if I have glaucoma?
Primary open-angle glaucoma is one type of the condition that is manifested by a gradual loss in the patient’s peripheral vision that usually occurs in both eyes. Another symptom considered for this type of glaucoma is tunnel vision that develops in the more advanced stages of the disease.
Acute angle-losure glaucoma may be detected by the presence of pain in one or both eyes, nausea or vomiting that comes with the severe pain in the eyes, blurred vision, redness on the affected eye, light sensitivity or seeing what appear to be halos around light sources, a sudden and marked decrease in visual acuity especially in the presence of low lighting.
As previously mentioned, regular eye checkups are important for the early detection of glaucoma patients must not wait for noticeable symptoms before visiting the doctor. Treating the condition at the very early stages will prevent it from progressing to a more complicated condition.
What causes glaucoma?
Damage to the optic nerve is often associated with a significant increase in intraocular pressure. This is the prevailing known cause of glaucoma and is mainly due to the buildup of aqueous humor, for the fluid substance that is found inside the eyes. The aqueous humor normally flows in and out of the eyes through a drainage system. When this drainage system fails to properly facilitate the flow of the said liquid, it will not be filtered out of the eyes at the ideal rate and this will cause the fluid’s pressure to build up within the eyes and cause glaucoma.
Am I at risk of getting glaucoma?
Glaucoma, being a chronic disease, can impair the patient’s vision gradually even before the first signs and symptoms of the disease become apparent. Some patients are more prone it to the development of glaucoma because of certain risk factors that increases their chances of contracting the condition.
- Patients that are between the ages of 40 and 60 have a significantly higher risk of acquiring glaucoma then younger patients. Comprehensive eye examinations must be administered regularly during this time to help diagnose the disease early on.
- African-American patients within this age bracket also have an increased risk of developing glaucoma then Caucasian patients. Studies have also shown that Asian patients have an increased tendency to develop acute angle-closure and normal-tension glaucoma
- If you have a family history of glaucoma then you are most likely to develop it overtime. The genetic source of the condition suggests that there are one or more defective genes that could lead to members of the same family having the condition at some point in their lives.
- There are several medical conditions, including diabetes; heart disease, hypothyroidism, and high blood pressure that tend to increase a patient’s risk for developing glaucoma.
- The long-term use of corticosteroid medications, particularly those formulated as eye drops, increases the risk for developing this condition as well.
- Other risk factors for developing glaucoma includes eye injuries, retinal detachment, inflammation, lens dislocation, and eye tumors.
How is glaucoma treated?
The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower the intraocular pressure to prevent further optic nerve damage. Initially, doctors may attempt to treat the condition using medicated eye drops that contain specifically formulated medications that can alleviate the condition. If these do little to bring down the intraocular pressure, oral medication is the next step. Patients may need to undergo surgery if all previous methods of medication are ineffective.