Commonly called the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma often goes undetected until it has already caused irreversible vision loss. In fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is responsible for so many cases of vision loss because sufferers usually experience no symptoms or issues, until the condition has progressed too far for treatment.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is not a singular disease, but rather describes a condition with several causes that raises introacular (inside the eye) pressure, damages the optic nerve and ultimately leads to permanent vision loss.
Individuals within certain groups are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. These risk factors include:
During a comprehensive vision exam, our optometrist uses a test called tonometry to measure the intraocular pressure of a patient’s eye. A pressure which is higher than normal usually signifies glaucoma.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. When glaucoma is detected early enough to prevent vision loss, there are a few different treatment that can help manage the disease. Treatment usually begins with oral medication and medicated eye drops intended reduce the production of fluid in the eye or to assist with the draining of excess fluid. If medication is ineffective, patients are usually recommended as candidates for a laser surgery procedure which allows the eye to better drain fluids. If laser procedures prove ineffective, there are other surgical treatment options available to help patients preserve their eyesight.
Most treatable cases of glaucoma are first detected and diagnosed during a patient’s annual comprehensive eye exam. To ensure the early detection and treatment of glaucoma, it is important that patients have regular vision exams. The American Optometric Association recommends healthy adults have at least one exam per year, unless otherwise recommended by a medical professional.