With more than three million people in the country living with glaucoma, it is clear that there is a problem. The number is expected to rise by almost 60 percent in the next 10 years. A person living with glaucoma can lose up to 40 percent of his sight without even realizing it. Glaucoma is the leading cause of total or partial blindness in people over the age of 60. Blindness due to glaucoma is irreversible.
With the increase in glaucoma cases around the world, it is important to raise awareness about the condition. Most people do not realize the danger posed by this vision thief. Glaucoma is a term that describes different conditions. The buildup of fluid on the eye and the resulting pressure on the nerve leads to damage of the optic nerve. Over time and with progressive damage, this process causes vision impairment. An individual can have the condition for years without knowing it.
There are two types of the condition: primary open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. The primary condition is more common. It is not painful and does not cause vision changes in the early stages. It occurs due to constant optic nerve pressure resulting in gradual damage. Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the iris is too close to the eye’s drainage angle. The iris blocks the fluid preventing proper drainage. This causes pressure to rise fast, leading to damage.
While some people develop glaucoma over time, an individual can experience an acute attack. This can quickly result in vision loss. The symptoms of an acute glaucoma attack include a sudden headache, sudden blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, and severe eye pain. An individual may also report seeing lights with rainbow-colored rings around them. It is important to seek immediate medical attention when these symptoms occur.
Immediate medical care can help to prevent vision loss. While preventing glaucoma may not be possible, it is possible to prevent the damage caused by the disease. There are several things that you can do to protect your eyesight or prevent significant vision loss. According to research, regular exercise can help to reduce pressure in the eye. Wearing protective eyewear can also help to protect the eyes while performing different potentially dangerous activities.
The best way to prevent damage caused by glaucoma is through regular eye exams. Early detection will lead to prompt treatment that can prevent the disease from doing irreversible damage. How often you should go for an eye exam will depend on your age. People over the age of 60 or 65 should go for an exam every six to 12 months. Those with risk factors that predispose them to get the condition, regardless of age, should get more frequent testing.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and it is a good time to raise awareness about this debilitating disease. If you have a family history of the disease, you should be vigilant about getting eye exams. This is also the case if you are of Asian, Hispanic, or African descent. You have a higher risk of getting the condition, and you need to be careful about protecting your eyes.
Find out if you are at risk for glaucoma & available treatments, contact Northwest Ohio Vision Center in Bryan, Ohio at (419) 452-4830.