Did you know over three million Americans have glaucoma? According to the National Eye Institute, this number is expected to climb to 4.2 million by 2030.
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what glaucoma is and preventative measures to avoid vision loss from this disease.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve due to fluid build-up on the front part of the eye. There are two major types of glaucoma.
The most common form of glaucoma, accounting for about 90% of all cases is open-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma happens gradually, where the eye does not drain fluid as well as it should. As a result, eye pressure begins to build and cause damage to the optic nerve.
The second type of glaucoma is angle-closure glaucoma. This occurs when the iris is close to the drainage angle in the eye and can cause a blockage. Pressure can rise quickly, causing an acute attack.
Symptoms and Preventative Measures
In the early stages of open-angle glaucoma, there are typically no symptoms. As the disease progresses, blind spots develop in your peripheral vision. Angle-closure glaucoma does not show symptoms before an attack. An acute attack may include symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, eye pain or nausea or vomiting.
The best form of prevention against significant glaucoma damage is having routine, comprehensive eye exams. If glaucoma is detected, you can begin treatment immediately.
Additionally, it’s important to know if you are at risk for glaucoma. You may be at higher risk if: you are over the age of 60, have a family history of glaucoma, eye injury or health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Be sure to talk to your eye care provider if you have questions or concerns regarding glaucoma.
The information contained above is intended to be educational in nature, does not constitute medical advice, and should not be relied on as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care or treatment. If you have any vision, dental or other health related concerns, VBA encourages you to immediately contact your optometrist/ophthalmologist, dentist/orthodontist or any other competent, licensed, medical professional.