how to find an optometrist for your family

Don't Let Glaucoma Rob You Of Your Vision

Glaucoma causes the pressure in your eye to increase, which puts stress on your optic nerve. If it goes untreated, you risk serious damage to your sight, even blindness. The cause of glaucoma is unknown, and you may not have symptoms until your vision is damaged. Here is what you need to know about this silent disease and how to prevent it from affecting your sight.

Factors Affecting Your Risk of Getting Glaucoma

While doctors don't know what causes the onset of glaucoma, they do know of several factors that contribute to your risk of developing it:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Age-related eye disease
  • Essential hypertension
  • Being overweight
  • Heat disease that contributes to high blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled diabetes

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Many people have no symptoms associated with their glaucoma until their vision is affected. Regular glaucoma checks by your ophthalmologist is a way to stay ahead of this disease before it causes damage.

For those people who experience symptoms, they can look like other eye issues, and can be easily ignored. Some of these symptoms include:

  • seeing fuzzy rings (halos) when looking at a light
  • redness in your eye
  • nausea or vomiting
  • throbbing pain in the eye
  • tunnel vision

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Doctors don't know what triggers the pressure increase in your eye, so they must look for evidence of damage due to the pressure to determine if you have glaucoma. Diagnosing glaucoma consists of:

  • examining the optic nerve for signs of changes due to glaucoma
  • measuring the pressure that the fluid is exerting within the eye
  • testing for loss of peripheral vision

Treatment Options

While glaucoma can't be prevented, the pressure in the eye can be reduced to stop any damage to your optic nerve. The common treatments used include:

  • Eye drops - Certain medications reduce the production of fluid in the eye while others increase the drainage of the fluid to prevent a buildup.
  • Laser surgery - A laser is used to create openings to allow fluid to drain from your eye, or to slow down the production of more fluid in the eye.
  • Microsurgery - Tiny channels are cut into the eye to allow the fluid to drain.

Lowering Your Risk of Glaucoma

You should begin getting regular glaucoma exams once you turn 40. A glaucoma screening can catch the disease before you lose your vision. There are also a number of lifestyle changes that will reduce your risk of this eye disease:

  • Maintain a healthy weight to keep your blood pressure down.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption, and stop smoking.
  • Get your cholesterol checked regularly and keep the good and bad cholesterol in balance.
  • Keep your diabetes under control before it can affect the blood vessels in your eye.

For additional reading, visit the website of an ophthalmologist in your area.