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Glaucoma is an eye condition caused by damage to the optic nerve, usually because of high pressure in the eye. It’s the leading cause of blindness for those over 60, according to Mayo Clinic. 

There are different types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle is the most common form but it has the fewest warning signs, mostly affecting peripheral vision in the advanced stages when it’s too late. This is why routine eye exams and glaucoma screening is crucial, it could save your vision.

What You Need to Know About Glaucoma

Glaucoma tends to affect an older demographic but anyone can develop the disease.

  • According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the world.
  • In the Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers forecasted there will be 79.6 million people with glaucoma by 2020, 74 percent of which will have open-angle.

Like all health-related conditions, glaucoma comes with its share of misinformation too. Southwestern Eye Center provides a list of common glaucoma myths. To set the record straight:

  • Glaucoma affects both eyes
  • Glaucoma is not curable, but it is preventable and treatable
  • Glaucoma can affect anyone at any age

What Are the Risk Factors for Glaucoma?

Those at risk for developing glaucoma: 

  • Are over 60 
  • Are nearsighted
  • Have a family medical history of glaucoma
  • Are Asian, Hispanic or African-American

Getting an eye exam is the best action to take if you’re unsure of your risk. In the short term, try out this risk calculator to better understand your risk.

Why Glaucoma Screening is Important

A 2016 John Hopkins University School of Medicine study indicated that most Americans regard loss of sight as the worst ailment that could happen to them. Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma and it can cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve that may result in loss of vision. The only way to combat glaucoma is by keeping up with your regular eye exams so you can catch it early and treat it.
Regular eye exams might include the following tests:

  • Tonometry: This tests the pressure of the eye; normal range is 12-22 mm Hg. Anything over 22 may be considered a “glaucoma suspect.”
  • OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography): This test uses light waves to take pictures of the retina, which are used to measure thickness. 
  • Visual field test: Measures peripheral vision with a series of lights that appear (or don’t, if you can’t see them).
  • Ophthalmoscopy test: This is when a doctor examines the nerve’s shape, color and pressure.

More specialized tests like a gonioscopy might be performed after diagnosis to further understand the type of glaucoma. Or if you are at risk, your doctor might recommend routine exams more often than once a year. 

You cannot diagnose glaucoma yourself. An eye doctor must examine your eyes using one of the above tests and then monitor your eye changes over time. 

Protect Your Vision

Glaucoma can sneak up on you without you knowing since oftentimes once you exhibit symptoms, the disease has already begun to do develop and affect your vision. Early detection of glaucoma is key to keeping your eyes healthy. At Southwestern Eye Center we specialize in glaucoma care treatment and management at all stages of the disease. Call 480-616-0467 to make an appointment to see one of our glaucoma specialists or fill out our contact us form today.