If someone were to ask you, what is the leading cause of blindness, would you know? What about if they asked you what eye disease has no cure and is one that everyone could potentially get? Still no answer? Glaucoma. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, “It is estimated that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it.” This statistic is quite scary, especially due to the fact that glaucoma has no present-day cure and the effects of this eye disease can lead to blindness. Glaucoma can also affect everyone, from babies to the elderly, any race, and gender. This debilitating eye disease is one that people should understand and learn how they can prevent and treat to avoid blindness.
What is Glaucoma?
University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center defines glaucoma, “Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases causing optic nerve damage. In glaucoma, eye pressure plays a role in damaging the delicate nerve fibers of the optic nerve. When a significant number of nerve fibers are damaged, blind spots develop in the field of vision. Once nerve damage and visual loss occur, it is permanent.” Unfortunately, for many they do not notice any difference in vision until they are already going partially blind from glaucoma. There are different types of glaucoma, with the most common called: open-angle glaucoma. This is when there is an increase in eye pressure.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
For many, there are no symptoms, which can make finding out that you have glaucoma quickly hard unless you have annual comprehensive eye exams. There are some warning signs that if you exhibit you should immediately contact your eye doctor. Some of these signs include:
Constant pain in or around eyes
Change in color of iris
Unusual trouble adjusting to dark rooms
Dark spot at the center of viewing
Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects
Squinting or blinking due to unusual sensitivity to light or glare
Red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen lids
Lines and edges appear distorted or wavy
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
Even though, glaucoma can affect anyone there are some people who tend to have higher risks than others. For example those who have elevated eye pressure are more at risk and those who suffer from nearsightedness. In addition those who have a family history of glaucoma, have had past injuries to the eyes, have a history of diabetes, or those with a history of anemia or shock also have increased risks. Also, people who are older or have African ancestry are more inclined to be at risk for glaucoma.
Knowing who is at risk and the symptoms of glaucoma, is not enough. People must schedule annual comprehensive eye exams and must follow their eye doctor’s orders in case they spot elevated eye pressure or one of the other symptoms of glaucoma. Glaucoma is very a very serious eye disease and one that should not be taken lightly. For more information on glaucoma, treatment options, or to schedule your eye exam contact Vision Source Specialists today.