Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. This group of disorders is commonly referred to as the “silent thief” of eyesight. Glaucoma tends to cause irreversible vision loss before patients experience noticeable symptoms. In recognition of glaucoma awareness month, Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates would like to inform you of your risk factors for glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma involves the drainage angle of the eye found between the sclera (white covering of the eye) and the iris (pigmented portion of the eye surrounding the pupil). This form of glaucoma happens when the drainage angle is too wide or in an open-angle configuration that affects fluid outflow from the inner eye, increasing intraocular eye pressure. Primary open-angle glaucoma is not caused by another condition or injury.
Increased eye pressure is the hallmark of glaucoma, and treatments focus on reducing eye pressure to minimize or prevent damage to the optic nerve. High intraocular eye pressure can harm the optic nerve, causing permanent vision loss because the nerve can no longer send accurate signals to the brain to form images. Eye pressure is a significant risk factor for primary open-angle glaucoma. Other types of glaucoma may present without high eye pressure, such as low-tension glaucoma or normal-tension glaucoma.
People are more likely to develop glaucoma as they get older. The drainage system may fail to function properly as you age, causing a gradual increase in eye pressure.
Race and Ethnicity
Specific races and ethnicities have an elevated risk for glaucoma, such as people of African or Hispanic descent. (Glaucoma is a leading cause of permanent vision loss and blindness in African Americans.) However, it’s unknown why these ethnicities are more likely to develop glaucoma.
People that have a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with glaucoma are more likely to be affected. Regular comprehensive eye exams are recommended for anyone with a family history of glaucoma because these appointments are crucial for early diagnosis. Maintaining good vision and preventing vision loss requires regular visits with an ophthalmologist because this disease is silent at first.
Some people have naturally thinner corneas, which can increase the difficulty in diagnosing glaucoma. The transparent outer layer of the eye (cornea) is measured during eye exams to determine risk factors for eye disease.
Other Health Conditions
People with high blood pressure or diabetes are more likely to develop certain eye diseases, including open-angle glaucoma. Controlling blood pressure and maintaining blood glucose (sugar) levels is the goal for optimal eye health and overall well-being. However, overtreating blood pressure or low blood pressure may also increase the risk of glaucoma. Healthy eyes rely on adequate blood flow to the optic nerve, which is affected by glucose levels and blood pressure.
Schedule a comprehensive eye exam at Kornmehl Laser eye Associates in Boston, Massachusetts, at (877) 870-2010 to discuss your glaucoma risk factors.