According to a survey conducted in 2002 by Prevent Blindness America, 30 percent of Americans have never heard of
glaucoma and only half of those participating in the survey actually knew what it was. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, and specialists believe that roughly 2.2 million people in America are affected. Only half of these individuals know that they have the disease. Given that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, this is a great time to review the condition so that you, as patients, can become better informed and more knowledgeable.
Glaucoma is a multi-factorial disease that causes damage to the optic nerve that eventually leads to vision loss. Peripheral (side) vision loss occurs due to damage of the optic nerve of eye, which is similar to a fiber optics cable with about 1.2 million fibers that send images from the eye to the brain. There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma. Both are usually marked by increased eye pressure inside the eye, but differ in the anatomical structure of the drainage system of the eye.
Risk factors for glaucoma? Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, newborn babies and senior citizens alike. However, there are several groups of people with an increased risk of developing the disease. Risk is heightened by:
- Race (African Americans, Asians and Hispanics)
- High blood pressure
- Steroid Use
- Age (People over 60)
- History of eye trauma
- Family History of glaucoma
- High near-sighted patients
What are the common symptoms of glaucoma? The majority of people that have glaucoma are without symptoms. The visual symptoms that do occur tend to occur later in the disease process.
How to diagnose glaucoma? A comprehensive eye evaluation is imperative to rule out any suspicion for glaucoma. There are several important factors that need to be assessed prior to making a diagnosis. These include: measurement of eye pressure (normal range 12-22), a close assessment of the optic nerve, a peripheral visual field measurement, an exam of the drainage system of the eye, and finally a measurement of the cornea of the eye. These measurements are repeated once or twice a year or more often if there is any concern about progression.
How is glaucoma treated? The best way to protect your vision if diagnosed with glaucoma is to continue care
with your eye care provider. The goal of treatment is to lower the intraocular pressure to prevent further damage to the optic nerve. When diagnosed with glaucoma, the first line of treatment usually starts with the use of a single eye drop that is instilled once a night. If further pressure lowering is needed, additional drops can be used. Further treatment options include laser therapy or, if necessary, surgical treatment.
Glaucoma is a very complicated disease and this is only a brief overview. Some questions may still remain; a great
resource for information is glaucoma.org, a website that is constantly updated with information for those with glaucoma and for those who may know others with glaucoma.
If you have any further questions and would like to learn more about Glaucoma Detection and Treatment, please Dr. Frank and the eye care specialists at Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here to visit AnneArundelEyeCenter.com today!
Cast your vote now for Anne Arundel Eye Center, Dr. Samuel Boles and Dr. Frank in Chesapeake Family Magazine’s Favorite Docs 2012! Voting ends on March 15th.
Dr. Boles and everyone else at the Anne Arundel Eye Center proudly support the efforts of The Polakoff Foundation and their role in the ongoing fight against glaucoma. Click here to purchase tickets online for the Polakoff Foundation’s Mardi Gras Celebration to help raise money to aid the fight against blindness.
Located in Annapolis, Maryland, the Anne Arundel Eye Center offers comprehensive specialized ophthalmic exams as well as diagnostic pre and post-surgical eye care. Specializing in glaucoma and cataracts, Dr. Boles has helped restore and preserve thousands of patients’ vision.
Glaucoma and Cataracts may be a natural part of aging. Losing your vision doesn’t have to be.
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.
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