Lifestyle and Glaucoma
Glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of sight” because it usually has no symptoms and can literally steal your vision before you know it. This disease affects about 3 million Americans and 67 million people worldwide. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, particularly among the elderly population. If you are seeking a glaucoma doctor in South Carolina please feel free to read more about the various types of glaucoma and inquire with our practice regarding treatment options and what living with glaucoma will entail.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the optic nerve in the eye. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or blindness.
Who is at highest risk for getting it?
Millions of people have glaucoma. Anyone can get it, but some people that are at a higher risk include:
• People with a family history of glaucoma.
• Over the age of 40.
• African American and Hispanic heritage.
• Severe nearsighted or farsighted people.
• Previous eye injury.
• High eye pressure although, there are many people with normal eye pressure that still develop glaucoma
• People with diabetes, low blood pressure, migraines, sleep apnea, or other health problems affecting the body.
• Taking corticosteroid medications, especially steroid eye drops for a prolonged amount of time.
How is glaucoma detected?
Glaucoma is found most often during a dilated eye exam. If your eye doctor suspects you may have glaucoma, they will have you return to the office for a series of tests designed to detect the disease, such as a visual field test, optic nerve scan, corneal thickness measurement, and possibly electrophysiology tests that analyze the pathway from the eye to the brain.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
In most kinds of glaucoma, there are no symptoms in the beginning. Vision stays normal and there is no pain. But as the disease gets worse, side vision may begin to fail. Objects straight ahead may be clear, but objects to the side might be missed. When glaucoma is left untreated, the field of vision narrows and objects in the front of you may no longer be seen. There are some types of glaucoma such as narrow-angle glaucoma where there can be eye pain. Your doctor will determine what kind of glaucoma you have.
What are the risks of glaucoma?
Lifestyle is definitely related to an increased risk for glaucoma. Blood pressure is a cause by increasing intraocular pressure (IOP) and has been implicated in glaucoma risk. Obesity, or being overweight, is also a risk for elevated intraocular pressures. Patients can reduce these lifestyle risks by maintaining an ideal body weight, blood pressure and developing an exercise plan to stay healthy.
Can I go blind from glaucoma?
Blindness can occur from glaucoma in some cases. There are around 120,000 cases of blindness in the United States and 2.3 million cases of glaucoma. About 5% of patients with the disease will go blind. However, sight impairment is more common and occurs in about 10% of patients. Loss of vision can occur even with the best treatment. It is important to follow up with your doctor for this disease.
What are the types of glaucoma?
Chronic open-angle glaucoma, Congenital Glaucoma, Secondary Glaucoma, Chronic angle-closure glaucoma, Angle-closure glaucoma.
Not every type of Glaucoma is the same or will have the same impact on your life. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma please make sure to familiarize yourself with the different types of glaucoma listed below. The South Carolina glaucoma specialists at Carolina Cataract & Laser Center are happy to provide additional information regarding your specific type of glaucoma and what this will mean to your life.
Chronic open-angle Glaucoma
This is the most common type of glaucoma. The drainage angle, where the fluids in the eye drain, is open but working less efficiently. The inability to drain causes pressure within the eye to rise, which results in a gradual loss of side-vision. This can be likened to an air filter, which gathers dust over time & eventually becomes too laden with dust to work properly.
This type of glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle is completely blocked, often by the iris. This prevents any fluid to drain from the eye & causes the pressure within the eye to suddenly rise. This extreme rise in pressure causes blurred vision, headaches, severe eye pain as well as the appearance of halos around lights.
Chronic angle-closure Glaucoma
This is painless and more gradual closing of the drainage angle, which occurs most frequently in people of African or Asian descent.
This type of glaucoma progresses very much like chronic open-angle glaucoma. It occurs when scar tissue blocks the drainage angle. The first symptom is a loss of side-vision.
This is a birth defect, which affects the drainage angle. To prevent blindness, this condition must be treated shortly after birth. Symptoms include enlarged eyes, a cloudy cornea, light sensitivity and excessive tearing.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss your glaucoma further, please call our office to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor at (843) 797-3676.