January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma

In a 2002 study respondents stated  that the three main health problems were worried about cancer, heart disease and glaucoma people. The good news is that early detection of glaucoma and appropriate therapy can preserve the vision of the majority of people with the disease. Glaucoma is actually group of diseases that gradually cause irreversible loss and damage to the optic nerve if left untreated.

WHO, World Health Organization, statistics show glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world; with cataracts being the most common cause. Approximately 4 million Americans have glaucoma, yet only about 2 million know they have glaucoma and are undergoing treatment. About 10% of people who are legally blind in the US is due to glaucoma.

Because glaucoma is a gradually progressing disease and painless, it often goes undetected by an individual until the loss is severe. The diagnosis of glaucoma usually occurs during a comprehensive eye examination.

Vision damage caused by glaucoma occurs slowly leading to tunnel vision. Since the peripheral vision loss is gradual, it rarely noticed by the patient until the loss is profound. Visual fields overlap with both eyes together, so when one eye has loss in a particular area, the other eye sees it so that the brain perceives the vision in this particular area. It is common to be unaware of a substantial loss of a visual field unless the patient alternately checks each eye individually.

Risk Factors

We know many of the risk factors for glaucoma so it is not difficult to identify a person who has a “high- risk” for glaucoma.

  • Race: African-Americans are five times more likely than Caucasians, and Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians also have an increased risk.
  • Family History of glaucoma
  • Age greater then 55
  • High refractive error
  • Steroid use (high risk medication)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Thin Corneas
  • High eye pressures and asymmetry
  • Trauma to the eyes
  • Glaucomatous Optic Nerve appearance- large cup to disk ratios, notching

 

 Symptoms

Glaucoma is basically symptom free until it has advanced, but a dramatic elevation of the eye pressures can be painful and cause visual disturbances like halos around lights. People who have lost some of their peripheral vision may bump into the wall or complain about not seeing approaching cars from the side of car while driving and may have difficulty with parking.

Causes

A simple way too look at glaucoma is to think of it as a plumbing problem, either too much water and not enough drainage or clogged drainage. In both cases the eye pressure build and becomes too high for the retina to function normally causing nerve damage. Glaucoma is much more complicated than this analogy.

Recent studies reveal that glaucoma may also have a hypoxic component where the ability of the optic nerve ability to receive oxygen from the blood supply is also a critical factor in glaucoma progression. The management of intraocular pressure is the main method for treating glaucoma. Drugs, laser and surgical treatments are vastly more effective in maintain vision then in the past.

Optique Professional Eye Care can assess the health of your eyes and your vision. We can detect diseases like glaucoma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Your eyes are worth it, your sight is a precious gift that we want to help you preserve. (918)743-9918.