Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions where the optic nerve is damaged at the point where it leaves the eye. Chronic glaucoma often has no symptoms and the eye may seem normal. It also isn’t painful and at first; your vision may seem normal. However, you will start to notice changes in your vision, especially your peripheral (side) vision. With glaucoma, vision loss will gradually increase until a patient goes blind. Although damage caused by glaucoma cannot be repaired, there are ways to slow down the progression. With early diagnosis, regular observation, and the right treatment, vision loss can be kept at a minimum. Learn the signs of glaucoma, self-care strategies for prevention, and how we can help you if you already have glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions where the optic nerve is damaged at the point where it leaves the eye. How does this happen though? And what is the optic nerve? The optic nerve of the eye runs from the back of the eyeball through an opening known as the optic foramen. Basically, your optic nerve connects to the brain and acts as a conduit for transmitting visual information into the brain. The optic nerve carries images from the retina or the light-sensitive membrane attached to the inner surface of the eye.
When a patient has glaucoma, the optic nerve becomes damaged. Fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. Because that fluid is not supposed to be there, it begins to increase the pressure inside your eye. That pressure directly damages the optic nerve or compresses it, which interrupts the signals that the optic nerve sends to your brain. Over time, blindness will set in that will only increase if a patient doesn’t seek treatment.
Chronic glaucoma often has no symptoms and the eye may seem fairly normal. At first, your vision may be unaffected, especially because the disease is not painful. However, patients will begin to notice that they are gradually losing their peripheral (or side) vision. If left untreated, the disease will cause a patient to begin losing their vision out of the corner of their eye. It will appear as if you are looking through a tunnel at all times. That tunnel will continue to narrow until total blindness takes over. There is no cure for the disease, but you can halt its progression with treatment.
There have been many studies on blindness and how glaucoma affects the population of the United States. Here are some shocking statistics:
Studies show that there are more than 200,000 cases each year. That number is only a reflection of people who seek treatment for the disease!
It is the leading cause of blindness.
There is no cure for glaucoma and everyone is at risk for getting it.
The condition is not painful even though it does damage your vision.
It’s estimated that over 3 million people have the disease, but only half of those know that they have it.
Studies show that at least 120,000 people with glaucoma are blind.
According to statistics, some groups are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. These include African Americans, people over 60, people in families where the disease is common, and those who have severe nearsightedness.
We cannot cure glaucoma that is already present. However, there are many self-care strategies for prevention that you can utilize. The Glaucoma Research Foundation affirms that the best way to prevent glaucoma is through receiving regular comprehensive eye exams. This can help detect the disease in its earliest stages and prevent it from progressing. What else can you do to prevent glaucoma in the first place or halt its progression? Here are some tips to help you:
See your eye doctor regularly.
Monitor your eye health, especially if you see changes in your vision.
Take prescribed eye drops and medications to halt the progression of glaucoma.
Know your family’s eye health history. This disease can be hereditary. If you are at risk for the disease, make sure to see your eye doctor more regularly.
Always make sure to take care of your eyesight through proper eyewear and good hygiene.
The bottom line is that if you take care of your eyesight, it will last longer. That is true whether you have an eye problem or no eye problems.
The best way to prevent chronic eye conditions and diseases from progressing is to see your eye doctor! Patients should visit their eye doctor at least as much as the American Optometric Association suggests. If it has been a while since you had your eyes checked, don’t wait another day. Call our Optical Masters office at (720) 782-2190 and schedule your eye exam today!