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Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss worldwide, but it’s essential to understand this disease because if it’s detected early enough, it can be managed properly and visual impairment can be decreased.
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Glaucoma: The Importance of Regular Eye Exams

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The Importance of Early Detection and Treatment of Glaucoma

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Glaucoma is a common eye disease that affects the optic nerve which connects the back of the eye to the brain. There are many different types of glaucoma, but the common thread amongst all of them is that it causes damage to the optic nerve which can lead to severe vision loss if not treated. Many types of glaucoma are caused by high pressure in the eyes. This disease can occur at any age but is most commonly developed in older adults. One of the leading causes of blindness in the population age 60 and older is glaucoma.

It is extremely important to have routine eye exams in order to be screened for glaucoma, as it often goes undetected for a long time, until it progresses to a more severe disease. Vision loss from glaucoma cannot be regained and therefore early detection is essential. There are treatment plans which can slow down or even prevent vision loss if diagnosed early enough.

It’s important to make sure that you go for regular routine eye exams in order to be monitored by your eye doctor. If you have a history of glaucoma in your family or if you are forty years or older then you will be screened for this eye disease more frequently.

If you experience eye pain, blurred vision and severe headaches, please book an appointment immediately with your eye doctor. If there isn’t an appointment available right away you will be guided to go to your local emergency room. It’s possible that you have an acute form of a serious type of glaucoma which needs to be treated immediately.

Symptoms

The symptoms greatly depend on the type of glaucoma and the stage of the disease. Two main types of glaucoma are open angle glaucoma and closed angle glaucoma. The latter has a specific form of the disease known as acute closed angle glaucoma which is considered to be an eye emergency. If you are experiencing any symptoms of the acute form, please book an immediate appointment with your eye doctor. If there isn’t a time slot available right away, please don’t delay and go to the nearest emergency room.

Open Angle Glaucoma

The main symptom is changes in your visual field. Some people may notice patches of blind spots in the central or peripheral vision which occurs in both eyes. If the damage to the visual field advances, it can cause tunnel vision which means that the person can only see in the narrow center of the visual field, but not the periphery.

Acute Closed Angle Glaucoma

This is an eye emergency so if you are experiencing these symptoms please seek urgent care immediately:

  • Eye pain
  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Redness in eyes
  • Halos around lights
  • Vomiting and nausea

Risk Factors

The risk factors vary for each type of glaucoma. Listed below are common risk factors for this eye disease:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Above age 40
  • High eye pressure
  • Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease
  • Eye trauma or injury
  • Certain medications over a long period of time, such as corticosteroids especially in the form of eye drops

Prevention

Glaucoma cannot always be prevented, but there are certain precautions that can be taken to lower your risk of developing this eye disease and preventing vision loss:

  • Regular eye exams with pupil dilation
  • Know your family history - if your first degree relatives have glaucoma, frequent screening is
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Treatment

There are many methods of treatment, depending on the type and stage of glaucoma, as well as the patient’s medical background. If you have glaucoma, your eye doctor will do a comprehensive eye exam including a full background medical history in order to recommend the best treatment plan for you. Some of the possible treatments include:

  • Wide variety of prescription eye drops which could consist of various medications, depending on your needs
  • Oral medication 
  • Laser surgery or other surgical procedures
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