Glaucoma is a common eye condition that can cause vision loss or even blindness when left untreated. With over 3 million Americans currently living with glaucoma, it’s important to know what you can do to protect your vision and potentially prevent the onset of this disease.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain. This damage is often caused by elevated pressure in the eye, known as intraocular pressure. As the pressure builds up, the optic nerve becomes increasingly damaged, leading to irreversible vision loss.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common and occurs when the drainage canals in the eye become clogged, leading to increased pressure. Angle-closure glaucoma is less common and occurs when the iris is pushed forward, causing a blockage of the drainage angle.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Glaucoma often has no noticeable symptoms in the early stages, which is why regular eye exams are important to detect any signs of the disease. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Blurred vision
- Halo around lights
- Difficulty adjusting to darkness
- Painful or red eyes
Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent glaucoma, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk:
Attend Regular Eye Exams
Regular eye exams are crucial in detecting any signs of glaucoma early on. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that individuals get a comprehensive eye exam at age 40, and every 2-4 years thereafter. If you are at higher risk for glaucoma (such as individuals with a family history of the disease), your eye doctor may recommend more frequent exams.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet to reduce your overall risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, which can increase your risk of developing glaucoma. Additionally, avoid smoking and limit your alcohol intake to further reduce your risk.
Protect Your Eyes
Wear proper eye protection when engaging in activities that can cause eye injuries, such as sports or construction work. Additionally, protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB rays.
Take Medications as Directed
If you have been prescribed medication for glaucoma or any other eye condition, take them as directed by your eye doctor. Skipping doses or not following the correct dosage can lead to worsening of the disease or other complications.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent glaucoma, there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk and protect your vision. Attend regular eye exams, maintain a healthy lifestyle, protect your eyes, and take medications as directed by your eye doctor to potentially prevent the onset of this disease.
- Can glaucoma be cured?
- How does the eye exam detect glaucoma?
- Is glaucoma hereditary?
- Can lifestyle changes reduce my risk of developing glaucoma?
- Can glaucoma only affect older individuals?
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for glaucoma. However, early detection and treatment can help slow or prevent further vision loss.
Your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam, which may include measuring eye pressure, examining the optic nerve, and testing visual fields.
Yes, genetics can play a role in the development of glaucoma. If you have a family history of the disease, it’s important to inform your eye doctor and attend regular eye exams.
Yes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, can reduce your overall risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, which can increase your risk of developing glaucoma.
No, while the risk of developing glaucoma increases with age, it can affect individuals of any age.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Glaucoma. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma
- National Eye Institute. (2019). Facts About Glaucoma. Retrieved from https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts
- Prevent Blindness. (2017). What You Should Know About Glaucoma. Retrieved from https://www.preventblindness.org/what-you-should-know-about-glaucoma