The dangerous thing about glaucoma is that the condition causes a loss of vision without you noticing any of the signs or symptoms. Glaucoma results from a build-up of pressure inside the eye. This pressure causes compression of the optic nerve, which results in damage to the nerve tissue and death of the individual nerve fibers that make up the optic nerve. The optic nerve functions to transmit visual information between the eyes and the brain. Early damage to the optic nerve causes a restriction to your side or peripheral vision. At this stage, any vision loss you have encountered may be undetectable to you. As glaucoma advances, it may involve loss of your central vision. If the disease is left untreated, glaucoma can lead to a significant loss of vision in both eyes, and potentially, total blindness.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. The condition typically occurs over the age of 40, although there is a rare form of congenital or infantile glaucoma that exists. African Americans are at a higher risk for the development of glaucoma than Caucasians, and typically the onset of the disease occurs earlier on in life. Glaucoma has also been shown to be more prevalent in Hispanic individuals. A family history of glaucoma increases your risk for developing the disease as well. Other eye specific risk factors can be detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Currently, there is no cure for glaucoma, nor is there any way to prevent the disease from occurring. However, if diagnosed early and adequately treated, the disease can be controlled. Medicated eye drop therapy, laser procedures, or surgical intervention can all work to slow progression or prevent further loss of vision. The goal of your individualized treatment plan is to lower the pressure inside the eye(s) involved to a safe level. Vision loss secondary to glaucoma is non-reversible, so it is important for early diagnosis of the condition before any such loss occurs. This is the reason behind the American Academy of Optometry recommending a yearly, dilated comprehensive eye examination to anyone at risk for the development of the disease. Depending on your specific case, your eye doctor may require more frequent examinations.
If you haven’t had the pressure in each eye checked, or haven’t had a dilated eye exam in the last year, call us today to schedule a convenient time to do so.