According to Glaucoma.Org, glaucoma is the:
- Leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
- Is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.
- Over 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it.
There are virtually no symptoms of glaucoma. Glaucoma causes loss of peripheral vision slowly. Most people don’t know they have glaucoma until they have lost most of their peripheral vision. Yearly eye exams are the best way for your doctor to check the pressure of your optic nerve. Glaucoma causes a buildup of excess fluid in the eye that puts increasing pressure on the optic nerve, leading to permanent damage of nerve fibers.
Risk factor for Glaucoma include:
- People over 60
- Genetic, you are more at risk if a family member has been diagnosed with glaucoma
- Extreme near-sightedness
- People of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent
The 2 Main Types of Glaucoma are:
- Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG): the most common form of glaucoma, accounting for at least 90% of all glaucoma cases. It is caused by too much pressure within the eye. The reason for the rise in pressure is probably because the drainage of fluid out of the eye isn’t working as well as it should. The increased pressure damages the optic nerve (the nerve of sight) by reducing the amount of blood that can get through the tiny blood vessels that supply the nerve.
- Angle-Closure glaucoma: this is a less common type of glaucoma. ACG develops when the drainage in the eye is blocked because the iris has come forward, causing the drainage angle to ‘close’ and the eye pressure to rise. Acute primary angle closure tends to be very painful because the rise in pressure happens suddenly. Symptoms include seeing halos around light sources, a red eye, cloudy vision and, sometimes, sickness. It must be treated straight away and in most cases vision recovers completely.
Our next blog post will focus on glaucoma treatment options.