More than 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and experts project that this number may increase by more than half by 2030. The number is also very high across the world, with over 60 million living with the condition. The need and urgency of creating awareness for glaucoma comes from the fact that it causes irreversible blindness. Also, unfortunately, it has no symptoms that could serve as warnings. Its tendency to creep up on people earned it the name “the sneak thief of sight.” Since blindness is among the top health fears and glaucoma is on the rise, it is necessary to warn people about the possibility of getting glaucoma and increase glaucoma awareness.
Glaucoma is an eye condition resulting from damage of the optic nerve by undue high pressure inside the eye. There are two major forms of glaucoma: angle-closure and open-angle glaucoma. However, open-angle glaucoma is the most prevalent and has the most subtle warning signs, if any. When advanced, this form affects your peripheral vision. The risk of developing open-angle glaucoma increases as you advance in age.
Angle-closure glaucoma is the condition where the iris bulges outward, blocking or narrowing the drainage angle between the iris and cornea. The result is an inhibition of fluid circulation through your eye, causing pressure to increase. There are many other forms of glaucoma, including congenital, secondary, and normal-tension glaucoma. Unfortunately, with glaucoma, there are no warning signs or symptoms. You realize you have it when your vision goes away.
Glaucoma does not discriminate; everyone is at risk of getting glaucoma, but some risk factors raise the likelihood of you acquiring it. They include:
Age of 40 and above.
A family history of glaucoma.
Chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
A recent eye injury or eye surgery.
Very high prescription glasses.
Your race (Persons of Asian, African, and Hispanic descent have a higher risk).
Other systemic conditions.
With all these common risk factors, having a regular eye health exam is crucial. It allows early detection and intervention, which helps prevent vision loss.
The optometrist conducts various tests to diagnose glaucoma. The tests include tonometry, visual field tests, pachymetry, optic nerve imaging, and gonioscopy. If detected, the doctor places you on treatments to slow down the development of glaucoma. There is no cure for glaucoma but, there are treatments to slow its progress, keeping it from advancing to the point of vision loss. Of course, all this depends on early detection. The sooner the disease is detected, the better.
Common treatments that slow glaucoma progression include eye drops, laser surgery, oral medications, and traditional surgery.
There is a need to create awareness about glaucoma because as severe as the disease is, many people across America and the world don’t know about it.
Most people have never heard of the disease. Others assume that, like any other condition, glaucoma is curable. They have no clue that glaucoma leads to irreversible blindness. We need to make them aware and warn them about glaucoma. So, let your friends and family know that glaucoma exists and the possibility of getting it. Encourage them to have annual eye exams for early detection. Regular eye exams help lessen the effects of the disease.
Learn more about glaucoma, contact Optical Masters in our Monaco, Federal, & University offices at (720) 780-8881, (720) 780- 9970, & (720) 782-2190.