Outsmart Glaucoma the Sneak Thief of Sight

Outsmart Glaucoma the Sneak Thief of Sight

It affects 2.7 million people nationwide, has stolen all vision from 120,000 Americans and is expected to double its impact by 2030. Known as the “Sneak Thief of Sight”, Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute.

The disease remains hidden from more than half of those affected. And while its symptoms often go unnoticed or ignored, once the damage is done, it’s permanent.

That’s why the Glaucoma Research Foundation is promoting Glaucoma Awareness and urging those who may be at risk of developing the disease to learn its symptoms and get regular eye exams.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition that affects the eyes, causing damage to the optic nerve, the portion of the eye responsible for sending images to the brain. With increased pressure caused by Glaucoma, the optic fibers that make up the optic nerve become damaged and a permanent loss of vision occurs.

Glaucoma Facts and Statistics:

  • Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness according to the World Health Organization.
  • There is no cure for glaucoma.
  • All age groups are at risk of developing glaucoma.
  • An estimated 60 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma.

Types of Glaucoma and Their Symptoms

There are two main types of Glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma, or wide-angle glaucoma, is the most common type of glaucoma and accounts for 90 percent of all cases according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. In cases of open-angle glaucoma, the structures of the eye may appear to be normal, however increased eye pressure is the result of slow clogging of the drainage canals.

Symptoms of Open-Angle Glaucoma

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, open-angle glaucoma can go unnoticed at first because the initial loss of sight happens in peripheral vision. Early detection and ongoing treatment can preserve vision.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Blindness

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma is less common and develops very quickly. It is caused by blocked drainage canals that result in a sudden rise in pressure inside the eye.

Symptoms of Angle-Closure Glaucoma

The symptoms for angle-closure glaucoma are usually very noticeable and demand immediate medical attention.

  • blurred vision
  • severe eye pain
  • severe head pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sudden sight loss

Five Factors for Glaucoma Diagnosis

  • Tonometry- measures the inner eye pressure
  • Ophthalmoscopy- the shape and color of the optic nerve
  • Perimetry- complete field of vision
  • Gonioscopy- angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea
  • Pachymetry- thickness of the cornea

Treatment Options for Glaucoma

There are several ways to prevent permanent eye damage once diagnosed with glaucoma:

  • Eye Drops: Medically-prescribed eye drops can decrease pressure by draining the fluid in eye or decreasing the amount of fluid made by the eye. Eye drops are the first choice for treating glaucoma.

  • Laser: Patients who have trouble tolerating medication may choose laser treatment as an alternative option. The most common laser treatments are argon laser trabeculoplasty (ALT) and selective laser trabeculoplasty (SLT). This form of treatment is usually not permanent and the patient will eventually be required to take medication, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

  • Surgery: When laser surgery is not successful, surgery is another option. To treat glaucoma, a drainage hole is created in the eye allowing the intraocular fluid to bypass the clogged drainage canals and reduce the pressure.

Are you at risk?

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the following groups are at higher risk of developing Glaucoma:

Are you at risk for glaucoma?

Are you at risk for glaucoma?

  • African Americans
  • People over the age of 60
  • Those with family members who have been diagnosed with glaucoma
  • Hispanics over the age of 60
  • Asians
  • Steroid users
  • Those who have sustained eye injuries
  • Those with high myopia (nearsightedness), hypertension and a central corneal thickness less than .5 mm

Preventive Practices

According to Web MD, those over the age of 40 with a family history of glaucoma should have a complete eye exam every one to two years. Those who have health problems such as diabetes and those who are at risk for eye disease may need to have more frequent exams

For a list of questions to ask your doctor after being diagnosed with glaucoma, please visit http://www.glaucoma.org/treatment/working-with-your-doctor.php.

Learn more about glaucoma from these sources:

Glaucoma Research Foundation

National Eye Institute

Web MD

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