Keeping Glaucoma in Check and Your Vision Intact
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Keeping Glaucoma in Check and Your Vision Intact

A leading cause of blindness in the world, glaucoma is incredibly common. In fact, it’s estimated a staggering 80 million people in the world have glaucoma, yet only 50% of individuals with the disease are aware they have it.  

So, what is glaucoma?

Glaucoma actually refers to a group of progressive eye diseases where the optic nerve slowly dies over time, and is usually related to pressure inside the eye that is too high. For most types of glaucoma, there are no symptoms in the early and even mid stages so most people do not know they have it.

There are two main types of glaucoma: open angle and narrow angle. The majority of people with glaucoma have open angle. Narrow angle glaucoma is usually related to being very farsighted and is treated differently than open angle. 

While there is no cure for glaucoma and the damage it causes is irreversible, early detection improves the chances of slowing down the disease’s progression and, in some cases, preventing blindness.

Testing for glaucoma may involve one test or a combination of tests, all of which are quick and painless. Based on what your ophthalmologist observes, a range of treatments may be recommended. These include medication, surgery, or laser treatment.

While almost everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma over the age of 40, certain factors further increase your risk. These include:

  • Being over the age of 40
  • Having a close family member with glaucoma
  • Having African, Hispanic or Asian Heritage
  • Having high eye pressure
  • Being very farsighted or nearsighted
  • Having diabetes, migraines or high blood pressure.
  • Long-term use of steroid medications (like prednisone or Flonase)

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people at risk for glaucoma have complete eye exams according to the following schedule:

  • Ages 40 to 54, every one to three years
  • Ages 55 to 64, every one to two years
  • Ages 65 and older, every six to 12 months

In addition, if you are experiencing any of the following problems with your vision, you should contact your eye doctor to schedule a glaucoma screening:

  • Blind spots
  • Blurry vision
  • Tunnel vision
  • Eye pain or pressure
  • Headaches
  • Appearance of rainbow circles or haloes around lights

 

 Dr. Erik Niemi is a board-certified ophthalmologist with at Advanced Eye Care in Bennington, VT.

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