Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve. The damage is caused by increased pressure over time which leads to progressive, irreversible loss of vision. The optic nerve transmits images to your brain, and when it becomes damaged, so, too, do these images.
Vision loss due to Glaucoma is irreversible, but it is not untreatable. The stigma around the disease is that you have no options, but that’s certainly not the case. With regular treatments, the progression of vision loss can be stopped and your vision can be saved.
Glaucoma tends to be inherited rather than contracted, and may not show up until later in life. Since the majority of those with Glaucoma receive it genetically, there are some alarming statistics based on race:
- Estimates put the total number of suspected cases of Glaucoma at over 60 million worldwide (Quigley and Broman)
- It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have Glaucoma but only half of those know they have it (The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group)
- African-Americans are 15 times more likely to be visually impaired from Glaucoma than Caucasians (The Salisbury Eye Evaluation Study)
- Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted
This isn’t to say that anyone who falls outside of these categories isn’t at risk for being diagnosed, but with genetics involved, there is certainly more alarm for anyone with a bloodline familiar with Glaucoma.
Early Detection Can Save Your Vision
With regular visits to your Ophthalmologist, Glaucoma can be detected in its earliest stages. When this happens, any further vision loss can be treated with laser surgery, eye drops, or pills. The route taken for your treatments will depend on how early we were able to detect the disease and how much damage has been done already.
Remember, damage done to the optic nerve by Glaucoma cannot be reversed, but early detection can prevent further damage or, worse, total blindness.
What are the Symptoms?
Most people who have Glaucoma show no symptoms. This is why it is so important to have a routine visit with your eye doctor to check for any signs, preferably every 1 to 2 years.
For those who have seen symptoms, the main one is typically loss of peripheral vision, which is vision out of the sides of your eye. Since this is so easily overlooked, many who have Glaucoma don’t even know they do.
Some other possible symptoms may include:
- Vision loss
- Eye redness
- Eye pain
- Tunnel vision
- Seeing circles around lights
If you have any of these symptoms, call us right away. Remember that any vision loss due to Glaucoma is irreversible, but putting a stop to any further damage is not.
It’s difficult to point the finger at any symptom or two that can cause Glaucoma, especially since many go unnoticed. If you’re curious to know if you may have Glaucoma, or want to know more, give us a call today and schedule an appointment with us.