You have most likely heard of glaucoma, but do you really know what it is or your risk of suffering from the condition down the road? Adults over the age of 40, especially those of African American and Hispanic descent, are at highest risk of glaucoma, so educate yourself now in an effort to prevent eye problems in the future.
The Definition of Glaucoma
The eye achieves clear vision through a dizzying and complex web of functions, one of which involves the optic nerve. An eye’s optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images to the brain, but glaucoma arises when the optic nerve can’t do its job and vision becomes compromised. Glaucoma is actually so serious that it can cause blindness in only a few years if left untreated.
Causes and Symptoms of Glaucoma
Glaucoma hurts the optic nerve due to increased pressure in the eye that builds when eye fluid fails to circulate to the front of the eye. As pressure builds up instead of flowing through, the optic nerve becomes paralyzed. Doctors have yet to establish the exact cause of this pressure, they do know that it is an inherited problem passed from parents to children. Chances are, if one eye has glaucoma, the other will as well.
Adults over the age of 40 are automatically at risk of glaucoma, but older adults of African American and Hispanic descent, and those with diabetes, are even more prone to glaucoma. Some cases are also seen in young adults and children. Glaucoma is tricky because it does not present many obvious symptoms until it’s already become a serious problem. Most people first notice loss of peripheral vision, and some with intense eye pressure may suffer from eye pain, headaches, and the appearance of halos around lights.
Long Term Glaucoma Treatment
If you are concerned about glaucoma, head to your eye doctor and have your pupils dilated for a glaucoma exam. Your eye doctor will focus on the optic nerve and perform a check for eye pressure and loss of side vision. The exam is simple, quick, and completely painless. Many different treatments exist for glaucoma based on how serious the condition is. Some patients just need eye drops, which reduce the formation of fluid in the front of the eye and can even help relieve the pressure with outflow. Others need laser surgery or microsurgery, which are procedures designed to increase outflow for permanently reduced pressure. Once the pressure is lifted, the optic nerve can function properly once again.