Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in older adults. It is a group of eye conditions that causes abnormally high pressure within the eye that damages the optic nerve. When caught in its earliest glaucoma stages, treatment can help slow or prevent its progression. Here are a few things you should know about this serious eye condition.

How is it Caused?

The abnormal eye pressure is caused by a buildup of fluid that flows through the inside of the eye. Normally, this internal fluid drains out through the eye’s natural drainage system. But when too much fluid is produced or the drainage system is not functioning properly, the fluid does not flow at its normal rate, and this causes an increase an eye pressure.

Glaucoma can be hereditary. If your grandparents, parents or siblings have it, you are at a higher risk of developing it. There are two common types: open-angle and acute angle-closure.

Symptoms of Both Types of Glaucoma

One of the most alarming facts about glaucoma is that most people don’t realize they have it until it has already begun to damage their optic nerve. The change in vision is so gradual that patients typically don’t notice it until some vision loss has occurred. Symptoms of glaucoma will vary depending on the type and stage it is in.

Open-angle glaucoma has a more gradual progression. Symptoms may include:

  • Patchy blind spots in central or peripheral vision, often in both eyes
  • In its advanced stage, tunnel vision

Acute angle-closure is the more serious of the two because it could rapidly progress in such a way that your vision could be lost within a day or two if not treated. Its symptoms include:

  • Eye pain
  • Severe headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye redness

If you experience some of these symptoms, see an eye doctor or go to an emergency room right away.

Treatments Save Your Eyesight

There is no cure for glaucoma. But if left untreated it will cause blindness and even with treatment, 15% of patients will become blind in at least one eye within 20 years. Glaucoma can be managed with prescription eyedrops that help reduce the eye pressure. Eventually, laser treatments or surgery may be needed.

Yearly comprehensive eye examinations are crucial to detecting glaucoma at its earliest stages, especially if you know you are at risk for it. Take control of your eye health and schedule your next eye exam at Valley Eyecare Center. Call (602) 955-2700 or request an appointment online.