It’s important to promote glaucoma awareness, especially as you age and your eye health and vision are in danger of deteriorating. What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma, and could you already have it?
Your eye health is extremely important, especially for preserving your vision as you age. One of the most dangerous eye conditions to be aware of is glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology defines glaucoma as “a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve.” The primary cause of glaucoma is high fluid pressure inside of the eye when this fluid is blocked or becomes unable to circulate normally.
There are multiple types of glaucoma, and the two main kinds of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.
What are Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma?
If you experience any of the following potential signs and symptoms of glaucoma, you should schedule to see a healthcare professional immediately:
- Seeing halos around lights
- Vision loss, especially peripheral vision
- Redness in the eye
- Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Eye pain
- Narrowed vision (tunnel vision)
Unfortunately, in many cases there are no signs and symptoms of glaucoma.
This makes regular eye tests for glaucoma even more important, especially if you have several risk factors for glaucoma. Some of those glaucoma risk factors include if you:
- Have a family history of the disease
- Are of African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandinavian descent
- Are over age 60
- Are a steroid user
- Have hypertension
- Have experienced eye trauma, such as from sports injury
- Are a long-term user of eye drops
- Have other existing health conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy
How Can You Prevent Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness (and the number one cause of blindness for seniors over the age of 60), but this effect can be prevented if the disease is caught early by getting regular eye exams and monitoring for signs and symptoms of glaucoma.
“If glaucoma is detected in its early stages, pressure can be controlled through medication or surgery, and the progression of the disease can be delayed,” says Dr. Paul Sieving, director of the National Eye Institute (NEI). “Early detection by having a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years is key to protecting vision, especially if you are at higher risk.”
Testing should be done more frequently depending on your age. Here are some general guidelines for when you should get your regular glaucoma tests for prevention of the eye disease:
- before age 40, every two to four years
- from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
- from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
- after age 65, every six to 12 months
If you have multiple high risk factors for glaucoma, you will need to be tested more regularly after age 40.
There are a variety of different tests for glaucoma, but the two that are part of a regular glaucoma eye exam are a tonometry and an ophthalmoscopy. A tonometry checks eye pressure, and an ophthalmoscopy checks the shape and color of the optic nerve.
Your healthcare provider will be able to determine if other eyes tests are needed for early detection and prevention of glaucoma.
Where Can You Get More Information About the Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma, Prevention, and Treatment?
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