More than 3 million Americans, and more than 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Treatment is often necessary for those diagnosed with glaucoma to prevent vision loss. While treatment cannot restore lost vision, it can help slow or even prevent further vision loss.
Keep reading to learn if glaucoma always requires treatment!
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, causing irreversible vision loss. The optic nerve connects the retina to the brain and is essential for vision.
In some cases, people can have glaucoma without even knowing it. This is because there are typically no symptoms until the condition has considerably advanced and severe damage has already occurred.
For this reason, routine eye exams are critical. Regular eye examinations are the best way to catch glaucoma early.
Once detected, prompt glaucoma treatment can help you avoid vision loss.
What are the Risk Factors for Glaucoma?
Often, glaucoma results from abnormally high eye pressure, also known as intraocular pressure or IOP. Your eyes produce a fluid known as aqueous humor.
In a healthy eye, this fluid leaves via the drainage canal in a consistent and steady manner. When you have glaucoma, there is an issue with the amount of fluid in your eye, often resulting from the overproduction of fluid or a blockage preventing the fluid from adequately leaving the eye.
If the drainage canal is clogged, the aqueous humor has nowhere to go, accumulating in your eye. This excess fluid increases your eye pressure, which slowly damages the optic nerve.
Although anyone can develop glaucoma, the following factors can also put you at higher risk:
- Being above age forty
- Family history of glaucoma
- Previous eye injury
- Corneas with a thin center
- Certain kinds of eye surgery
- Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
- Being Hispanic, African American, or Asian
- Long-term use of corticosteroid medications
- Certain health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, and sickle cell anemia
Your eye doctor will determine the best glaucoma treatment for you depending on the following:
- Your age
- The severity of your condition
- Past medical history and health
- How well you can tolerate certain medications, therapies, or procedures
The goal of any glaucoma treatment is to lower eye pressure and slow or prevent additional vision damage from occurring. Your treatment options may include:
Prescription drops are non-invasive treatments used to control your IOP. They do this by increasing drainage and decreasing the amount of fluid in your eye.
Glaucoma drops are taken frequently, several times daily, and sometimes in combination with oral medication.
Laser therapy is another effective treatment for glaucoma. Using a laser, your surgeon can create a new drainage route or improve the existing one, allowing excess fluid to leave your eye.
Surgery may be the better option if your glaucoma is severe. Depending on the procedure, your eye surgeon can address severe drainage problems by inserting an implant or manually making a new path.
Maintain Your Sight for Life
The sooner your eye doctor can detect glaucoma and the proper treatment begins, the better the chances of protecting your vision. The experienced glaucoma experts at VisionPoint Eye Center can accurately diagnose the sight-threatening disease and provide timely, effective treatment to save your sight.
Have you had your eyes checked recently? Schedule an appointment at VisionPoint Eye Center in Bloomington, IL, today!