7 Things You Didn’t Know About Glaucoma

man and eye doctor review a graphic that explains glaucoma

Do you know whether you have glaucoma? No? Then it’s time to find a glaucoma specialist near you. If you’re like the nearly 1.5 million other Americans out there—you probably have no idea if you have this common eye condition. Roughly half of the U.S. glaucoma population goes undiagnosed.

Glaucoma symptoms often start slowly, making them unnoticeable. So, the only way to truly find out is for you to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

While there’s no cure for glaucoma, early treatment can often stop the damage and protect your vision.

Was the above information news to you? Read on for seven other facts you probably didn’t know about glaucoma.

1.      There Are Four Different Types of Primary Glaucoma

Primary glaucoma is what experts call types of glaucoma with unknown causes.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

In the U.S., 9 out of 10 people with glaucoma have open-angle glaucoma. It’s the most common type, and folks often don’t show any symptoms or notice any vision loss early on, making it difficult to catch early without regular vision check-ups.

While experts aren’t sure what causes it, pressure building up in your eye is suspected. When eye fluids can’t drain fast enough, it creates pressure that pushes on your optic nerve. Over time, the pressure damages the nerve, affecting your vision. This damage can eventually lead to blindness.

Suggested treatments include medicines, laser treatment, surgery.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma

A type of open-angle glaucoma, normal-tension glaucoma, affects people with typical eye pressure. On average, 1 in 3 people has a normal-tension variety of open-angle glaucoma.

You’re at higher risk for normal-tension glaucoma if you:

  • Are of Japanese descent
  • Have a family history of the disease
  • Have had specific heart problems (For example, an irregular heartbeat)
  • Have low blood pressure

While experts don’t know what causes normal-tension glaucoma, research shows that lower eye pressure treatments can help ease the disease and stop vision loss.

Suggested treatments include medicines, laser treatment, surgery.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Also called narrow-angle or acute glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, is a medical emergency. This typically happens when the outer edge of the iris blocks fluid from draining out of the front of the eye. In this type of glaucoma, the fluid builds up quickly, causing a sudden increase in eye pressure. Angle-closure glaucoma left untreated can cause blindness in just a few days.

See a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately if you suddenly have:

  • Intense pain in your eye
  • Nausea
  • Red eyes
  • Blurred vision

Suggested treatments include medicines, laser treatment.

Congenital Glaucoma

Some babies in the U.S. are born with congenital glaucoma (about 1 out of 10,000). This congenital disability in the eye keeps fluid from draining normally.

Children born with congenital glaucoma usually have symptoms you can notice immediately, such as:

  • Cloudy eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Producing extra tears
  • Larger than usual eyes

In these cases, surgery—performed by a qualified pediatric ophthalmologist—works very well to treat these problems. Surgery that’s performed early will usually prevent permanent vision loss in children with congenital glaucoma.

Suggested treatments include medicines, surgery.

2.      Anyone Can Develop Glaucoma

Anyone can develop glaucoma. But you’re at a higher risk if you:

  • Are of African American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandinavian descent
  • Are over age 40
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are nearsighted or farsighted
  • Have poor vision
  • Have diabetes
  • Take certain steroid medications
  • Take certain bladder control drugs
  • Take seizure medication
  • Have had an eye injury
  • Have thinner corneas
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have heart disease
  • Have diabetes
  • Have sickle cell anemia
  • Have high eye pressure

3.      One of The Only Ways to Catch Glaucoma Early Is to Get Your Eyes Dilated by Your Eye Doctor

Since many eye diseases start slowly, you could have a problem with little to no warning signs and not know it. Therefore, a comprehensive dilated eye exam is among the best things you can do for your eye health! The simple and painless exam is the only way to check for eye diseases early on when they’re easier to treat. Doing so may help prevent vision loss.

Get a dilated eye exam. It’s the only way to know for sure—even if you think your eyes are healthy,

4.      Glaucoma Runs in Families

You’re at a greater risk for developing glaucoma if you have a family history of the disease. Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to discuss your specific risk factors and determine how often you need to get checked.

5.      If You Tend to Have A Higher Eye Pressure Than Normal, You Are at Risk for Developing Glaucoma

While not everyone with higher eye pressure will develop glaucoma, research shows an increased risk of damage to these folks’ optic nerve. An individual’s optic nerves can only stand so much pressure before being damaged (which is different for everyone). To help your doctor determine what level of eye pressure is normal for you, you need to receive regular comprehensive dilated eye exams.

6.      There Are Often No Early Signs of Having Glaucoma

There’s no cure for glaucoma, but early treatment can often stop the damage and protect your vision. Don’t wait for symptoms. A lack of symptoms prevents people from getting glaucoma diagnosed. Awareness is key!

Without treatment, a person with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral vision. Over time, central vision is also affected.

7.      If You Have an Eye Injury at Any Point in Your Life, You Are at A Higher Risk of Glaucoma

Though less common, sometimes eye injuries you’ve sustained throughout your life can develop into glaucoma at a later stage. These causes include:

  • a blunt or chemical injury to your eye
  • severe eye infection
  • blocked blood vessels inside your eye
  • inflammatory conditions

Additionally, while it’s rare, eye surgery to correct another condition can sometimes bring it on.

Have an Eye Health Issue? Campus Eye Center in Lancaster Is Here for Your Eye Health

Need to schedule a routine eye exam? Are you concerned about your risk of developing glaucoma? Or are you a glaucoma patient seeking an experienced, compassionate doctor to help you work through glaucoma treatment in Lancaster, PA? Please contact us at Campus Eye Center to make an appointment today.