Many of us have heard of the common ocular disease, glaucoma, but you may be wondering what causes glaucoma and how you could avoid receiving a diagnosis. While glaucoma is usually genetic, you must become familiar with the numerous preventative lifestyle changes you can take to prolong onset. Whether you’ve noticed your eyes feeling sore or tired more frequently or have noticed blind spots in your peripheral vision, it likely means it’s time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. The award-winning doctors at Art of Optiks are skilled in ocular disease management and are prepared to help you preserve your healthy vision.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a term referring to a condition in your eye that causes damage to your optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits images from your retina to your brain, allowing you to see correctly. Glaucoma causes can vary, but the most common is excess fluid building up in the front portion of your eye, increasing the pressure and damaging the optic nerve as a result. When unnecessary pressure is placed on the optic nerve, it interferes with how well you’re able to see. There are many different types of glaucoma in the world today, and below are a few of the most common:
- Primary Open-Angle (POAG)
- Normal-Tension or Low-Tension
It isn’t unusual for symptoms of glaucoma to develop slowly, meaning many diagnosed with glaucoma don’t notice symptoms right away. Since glaucoma is known as the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 60, you must schedule annual comprehensive eye exams so your eye doctor can identify glaucoma in its early stages. The sooner treatment starts, the more likely clear vision can be upheld, and the onset of more severe symptoms can be slowed.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
You may be asking, “What is the first sign of glaucoma?” If so, we’re here to help you determine exactly that. While many diagnosed with glaucoma don’t notice warning signs or obvious symptoms in the early stages, the more the disease progresses, the more likely it is for you to notice blind spots developing in your peripheral vision. If you are experiencing blind spots, you must immediately schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to get a glaucoma test completed. While there are many types of glaucoma, the common glaucoma symptoms are similar. Here are some we encourage you to take note of:
- Red eyes
- Blind spots in peripheral vision
- Sudden blurry vision
- Pressure behind the front part of your eye
- Halos around lights
- Tunnel vision
- Severe eye pain
While it’s likely your eye care professional will check for glaucoma as part of your routine comprehensive exam, it’s essential to become familiar with the ranging variety of diagnostic tests so you’re prepared and comfortable during your visit.
- Ophthalmoscopy: Your pupils are dilated with eye drops, so your eye doctor can examine the inside of your eyes with a special light and magnifying glass.
- Perimetry: You will be asked to participate in a visual field test to test your peripheral vision. Your eye doctor will have you look straight ahead while placing a light spot in different areas. Perimetry will help your eye doctor get a thorough idea of how healthy your peripheral vision is.
- Tonometry: If you’ve been to the eye doctor, you’re likely familiar with the “puff of air” test or tonometry. Your eye doctor uses tonometry to measure the pressure in your eye, which, if elevated, can be a sign of early glaucoma.
- Gonioscopy: You will be numbed with eye drops, and your eye doctor will place a magnifying lens resembling a contact on the eye. This lens is utilized to study the angle between your iris and cornea to verify if it’s normal, open, or closed.
- Pachymetry: Your eye doctor will utilize a probe on the front of your eye to measure the cornea’s thickness. Varying corneal thicknesses can affect the results of a tonometry test or eye pressure reading.
If you’ve recently received a glaucoma diagnosis from your eye doctor, you must become familiar with the various treatment options. Unfortunately, there is not a cure for glaucoma, but technology and advancements over the years have developed many kinds of effective treatments to help slow down the disease’s progression. Your eye doctor will recommend the best type of treatment for you based on your unique needs, which kind of glaucoma you have, and what stage the disease is at. Most commonly, you will be prescribed medicated eye drops that will lower your intraocular pressure by reducing fluid buildup and encouraging fluid drainage. Your eye doctor may also recommend various surgeries to treat your glaucoma if it’s unlikely that medicated eye drops will provide you with relief, such as:
- Aqueous shunt surgery
- Laser iridotomy
- Peripheral iridectomy
- Laser trabeculoplasty
Being diagnosed with glaucoma can be alarming, especially if you live a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, glaucoma is a genetic disease meaning there are no ways to prevent its onset. However, if you are aware that glaucoma runs in your family, there are many steps you can take to avoid significant damage from glaucoma. Scheduling regular comprehensive eye exams is the best form of prevention. This will allow your eye doctor to catch glaucoma in its early stages so that treatment can be started immediately. Additionally, it’s recommended to make active lifestyle changes like incorporating exercise into your daily routine, quitting smoking, adopting a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, and protecting your eyes.
While learning you have glaucoma can be life-changing, regular comprehensive eye exams are crucial to catch the disease in its early stages. Becoming familiar with how glaucoma is caused, what symptoms to look out for, and steps taken after you’ve been diagnosed is vital. If your family has a history of glaucoma, it’s important to make active lifestyle changes to prolong the onset of symptoms. Our team of doctors at Art of Optiks is prepared to guide you in ocular disease management and provide you with the best care possible. Schedule your appointment today.