WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT GLAUCOMA
Did you know over 2.8 million Americans have glaucoma and that number is expected to rise by 50% by the year 2032? Glaucoma is caused by the eye’s failure to maintain the balance of pressure between the internal fluid and the amount of fluid it drains away. High eye pressure caused by this imbalance causes pressure to build up against the optic nerve causing nerve damage.
Damage typically starts in the outside peripheral vision and is often not recognized by patients. A dilated eye exam is necessary to examine the optic nerve. This video from the National Eye Institute explains the importance of regular eye exams and how glaucoma patients are diagnosed and treated.
Video from The National Eye Institute
Treatment generally begins with eye drops. Just as in any other prescribed medication, it’s important to consistently take the drops as prescribed. Since glaucoma symptoms are typically undetected, patients will not realize the damage that can be done without following the prescription.
If your optometrist deems that eye drops aren’t the best course of action, lasers or in extreme cases surgical procedures may be necessary to treat the disease.
Types of glaucoma include:
Chronic (Open Angle) Glaucoma: The most common form. In open angle glaucoma, aqueous fluid drains too slowly and pressure inside the eye builds up. It usually results from aging of the drainage channel, which doesn’t work as well over time. However, younger people can also get this type of glaucoma.
Normal Tension Glaucoma: This is a form of open angle glaucoma not related to high pressure. People with normal tension glaucoma may be unusually sensitive to normal levels of pressure. Reduced blood supply to the optic nerve may also play a role in normal tension glaucoma.
Acute (Angle Closure) Glaucoma: Those of Asian and Native American descent are at higher risk for this form of glaucoma. It occurs when the drainage system of the eye becomes blocked. It causes a sudden rise in pressure, requiring immediate, emergency medical care. The signs are usually serious and may include blurred vision, severe headaches, eye pain, nausea, vomiting or seeing rainbow-like halos around lights.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.
If you haven’t scheduled a regular eye exam, now is the time to do so. Call it your New Year’s Resolution to better health. Take action and call our office at 724-443-6767 today!
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.