Did you know that 2.7 million Americans currently suffer from glaucoma, and that by 2030, that number is expected to skyrocket to 4.2 million? Glaucoma is a symptom-less disease that can cause you to begin slowly losing your vision, and you might not even notice until up to 40 percent of your vision is permanently gone. Here are Optics&EYECARE, we would like to take this opportunity to educate our patients and the public about glaucoma — because glaucoma blindness can be prevented.
Glaucoma: What You Need to Know
Glaucoma is a disease that causes vision loss by damaging the optic nerve, which is the nerve that transmits visual signals from the eyes to the brain. While there is currently no cure for the disease, treatment can slow the progression of glaucoma and prevent blindness.
The World Health Organization reports that glaucoma is the world’s second most common cause of blindness. It often causes few if any symptoms. Most people in the early stages of the disease lose their peripheral vision first, so that vision loss can become substantial before the glaucoma sufferer notices it.
Some people are at a higher risk of glaucoma than others. These include people of African, Hispanic or Asian ancestry. Other people who might be at an increased risk of glaucoma include:
- People older than 60
- People with severe myopia, or nearsightedness
- Family members of people with glaucoma
Tests for glaucoma may measure the pressure inside your eye, since the two most common types of glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma and primary open-angle glaucoma, cause an increase in pressure inside the eye. However, not all forms of glaucoma cause pressure inside the eye to increase. Other methods of diagnosing glaucoma include:
- Checking the optic nerve for damage. Your doctor can do this by looking into your eyes with specialized instruments.
- Peripheral vision and visual acuity tests.
- Pachymetry, a test which measures the thickness of your cornea. Corneal thickness is another symptom of glaucoma.
If Dr. Mohanan suspects glaucoma, she may perform additional tests refer you to an ophthalmologist.
What is your glaucoma risk?