Around three million Americans have glaucoma yet almost half of them are not even aware they have this condition. That’s because glaucoma produces changes in your vision that are not noticeable until the problem is already advanced. This is also why this condition is often called the “silent thief of sight.”
Here’s what your optometrist wants you to know about glaucoma.
How It Happens
Your eyes constantly produce fluids that flow inside your eyes. They then empty into the drainage angle. The total amount of fluid produced must be the same amount to be drained out. However, when the drainage angle is too narrow or it has structural problems, it may not be able to empty the fluids completely and efficiently, letting the fluid build up in your eyes.
Your eye doctor explains that when the fluid volume rises, so does the pressure inside your eyes, otherwise called intraocular pressure (IOP). This increased IOP can compress the optic nerve, which contains a million tiny nerve fibers that transmit signals from your eyes to the brain. Any damage to this structure may cause changes to your vision, a condition called glaucoma. Sometimes, this can even lead to blindness.
How It Affects Your Vision and Who Is at Risk
You may not notice any changes to your eyesight at first. As the disease progresses, however, you may eventually complain of constant headaches, eye pain, nausea or vomiting. Then you may also report having blurry central vision, seeing halos and seeing blind spots in your peripheral vision. If you notice any of these, schedule an eye exam. We may perform an eye pressure test and other procedures to confirm glaucoma.
While glaucoma can happen to anyone, some people are at a higher risk of getting this condition. Those who have relatives who have glaucoma, are 40 years or older or use eyeglasses or contact lenses to manage their farsighted- or nearsightedness are included. Individuals who have had eye injuries or have high blood pressure, high blood sugar or migraines are also more likely to develop glaucoma.
How It Is Managed
Glaucoma is often managed with IOP-lowering eye drops. If the symptoms persist or the condition continues to advance, we may then suggest performing surgery, which is aimed to make the drainage angle work better.
For more information about glaucoma, call us at (717) 609-4443 or complete our form. We serve Chambersburg and nearby PA areas.