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Glaucoma Diagnosis and Treatment May Help Prevent Blindness

by Damion Wasylow 6 January 2020 08:08 AM

woman getting glaucoma exam
More than 3 million people in the United States currently live with glaucoma. While it often presents few symptoms early, left untreated glaucoma eventually leads to vision loss or complete blindness. In fact, it’s the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness. 

Glaucoma tends to be genetic and develops later in life. It is often linked to a buildup of intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eye). The increased pressure damages the optic nerve, which delivers images from your eye to your brain. When severe enough, that damage is what creates blindness.

There are two main forms of glaucoma: open-angle and angle-closure, with open-angle being more common. 

With open-angle glaucoma, loss of peripheral (or side) vision is typically the first indication. 

Depending on the form, angle-closure glaucoma may be symptomless, or it may produce substantial, rapid onset symptoms including severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and/or a rainbow halo around lights. The latter, known as acute angle-closure glaucoma, requires immediate treatment to prevent blindness.

Catching glaucoma early is the key to minimizing its impact. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends everyone should be screened for glaucoma starting in their 20’s, with increasing frequency as they get older. By age 65, they suggest everyone be screened for glaucoma every one-to-two years. 

During a glaucoma screening, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam with the addition of a few glaucoma-specific tests. Those tests may include eye pressure measurement, examination of the optic nerve, peripheral vision evaluation and review of corneal thickness.

Once diagnosed, glaucoma is treated by lowering your intraocular pressure. Prescription eye drops and oral medications may help lower pressure within the eye. Laser and other surgical procedures are possibilities for patients who do not respond well to less-invasive treatment.

While optic nerve damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, early diagnosis gives you and your eye doctor the opportunity to slow future damage and preserve your sight.

If you or someone you love could use a glaucoma screening, contact us at North Florida Cataract Specialists and Vision Care today at 352-373-4300.



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