Glaucoma: Early Diagnosis and Treatment
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Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. It can develop in one or both eyes. However, with early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
Frequently Asked Questions about Glaucoma
Does increased eye pressure mean that I have glaucoma?
Not necessarily. Increased eye pressure means you are at risk for glaucoma, but does not mean you have the disease. A person has glaucoma only if the optic nerve is damaged. If you have increased eye pressure but no damage to the optic nerve, you do not have glaucoma. However, you are at risk. Be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma. Some people are at higher risk than others.
- African Americans over age 40.
- Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans.
- People with a family history of glaucoma.
A comprehensive dilated eye exam can reveal more risk factors, such as high eye pressure, thinness of the cornea, and abnormal optic nerve anatomy. In some people with certain combinations of these high-risk factors, medicines in the form of eye drops reduce the risk of developing glaucoma by about half.
Medicare covers an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam for some people at high risk for glaucoma.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
At first, there are no symptoms. Vision stays normal, and there is no pain. However, as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice his or her side vision gradually failing. That is, objects in front may still be seen clearly, but objects to the side may be missed.
As glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact our office for a comprehensive eye exam.