Around three million Americans have glaucoma. This is a group of diseases that target the optic nerve, which links the eyes to the brain. This condition is a leading cause of visual impairment worldwide, which can be prevented with early detection and treatment.
Glaucoma Could Be Sneaking Up on You
Often called the “sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma doesn’t usually come with warning signs. Many don’t become aware of the condition until it is in its later stages. While it can be slowed or prevented, there’s no cure to it. Glaucoma can affect your daily tasks. Patients report experiencing difficulty in reading food labels when grocery shopping, looking at text messages and even watching TV.
Open-Angle Glaucoma – Most people who have open-angle glaucoma don’t experience open symptoms at first. This is why it’s important to see your eye doctor regularly. Open-angle glaucoma is characterized by gradual peripheral vision loss in both eyes and tunnel vision in the later stages.
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma – Acute angle-closure glaucoma requires immediate medical attention, or it could result in blindness within a day or two. Its symptoms include severe eye pain, sudden onset of visual disturbance, blurred vision, eye redness and halos. This type of glaucoma can also come with nausea and vomiting that’s accompanied by severe eye pain.
Chronic Angle-Closure Glaucoma – This type of glaucoma develops slowly and can damage the optic nerve without symptoms. Patients who suffer from chronic angle-closure won’t experience symptoms until they start to lose peripheral vision.
Who Are at Risk?
Those with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk of the eye condition. If you have high eye pressure and are over 50 years old or of African or Asian descent, you’re also more likely to develop glaucoma. Other risk factors include diabetes, short or long-sightedness, previous eye injury, prolonged use of steroids and high blood pressure.
How to Get Checked for Glaucoma
Routine eye exams are still the best way to detect all types of glaucoma. Your eye doctor will check your eye pressure using a tonometer and also inspect the optic nerves for damage with a slit lamp. Make sure to notify your doctor if you have a family history of glaucoma. People who are over 50 should get tested for glaucoma every two years.
Turn to Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry for your family’s eye care needs. Whether you need new eyeglasses, contact lenses or vision therapy, we’re here to help. Call us at (703) 467-9080, or complete our contact form to request an appointment. We assist patients in Reston VA, and surrounding areas.