Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States for people over the age of 60. The disease is caused when the pressure inside your eye rises to a dangerously high level, damaging the optic nerve.
Patients with the greatest risk include the elderly, those with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans, and patients who are diabetic or near-sighted. Anyone who falls into these groups should have a comprehensive eye exam every two to four years as a measure of prevention.
Symptoms of glaucoma can include:
- blurred vision
- loss of peripheral vision
- halo effects around lights
- painful or reddened eyes
Due to its slow progression, glaucoma develops over many years without causing any pain. That’s why many patients are often diagnosed beyond a point where intervention can reverse the damage that has already been caused.
If untreated, the pressure within the eye will eventually damage the optic nerve and cause blind spots. A worsening of this condition may result in blindness. This is why regular eye exams and early detection are critical.
If diagnosed early enough, glaucoma can be controlled. Treatments to lower pressure in the eye include non-surgical methods such as prescription eye drops and medications. However, in some cases, laser therapy and surgery may be required to help prevent pressure buildup.