Glaucoma, known as the “Silent Thief of Sight,” affects over 3 million people in our country. What’s frightening about glaucoma is that only half of those affected know they have the disease. By the time it is detected, glaucoma may have already stolen a person’s precious sight.
Dr. Ernest Kornmehl of Boston area Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates would like to remind all of his patients that the early detection of glaucoma is crucial to properly treating it. Read on as Dr. Kornmehl explains more about the disease and how it can be detected and treated.
An Overview of Glaucoma
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which transmits information from the eye to the brain. The disease occurs when the fluid continually produced in the eye is unable to drain properly, either because the fluid cannot reach the eye’s drainage angle or because the drainage angle is blocked. As a result, intraocular pressure rises to dangerous levels, eventually damaging the optic nerve.
If untreated, glaucoma can lead to irreversible vision loss and even blindness.
When glaucoma is caught early, it can be managed in a few different ways. Generally the first line of defense against glaucoma is the use of special eye drops to lower intraocular pressure and preserve the optic nerve. Alternatively, special treatments can be performed to clear the drainage angle and improve the outflow of fluid from the eye.
Catching glaucoma in its early stages is quite difficult because many cases do not cause any obvious signs or symptoms, aside from possibly the gradual reduction of peripheral vision. A particular type of glaucoma, known as angle-closure glaucoma, can cause eye pain, headaches, nausea and vomiting; these symptoms constitute a medical emergency and require a doctor’s immediate attention to save vision. But in most cases, patients do not know they have glaucoma until it is too late.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself from Vision Loss to Glaucoma
The surest way to identify glaucoma early and monitor it is to have regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist, who will use special instruments and tests to measure intraocular pressure. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends starting these exams at the age of 40. However, individuals with the following risk factors may want to start having annual exams at an earlier age:
- African, Filipino or Hispanic descent
- Farsighted or nearsighted
- History of previous eye trauma or eye injury
- Diabetes, high blood pressure or similar health problems
- Family history of glaucoma
To learn more about the detection and management of glaucoma, please contact Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates and request a consultation. Call 877-870-2010 or email us today.