The eye care community calls glaucoma the “sneak thief of sight.” That’s because it can cause significant vision loss, generally without the patient feeling any symptoms until irreversible damage has occurred.
But what is glaucoma? Can it be prevented and how is it treated? Find out more below.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that occurs when high pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eyes and the brain. This is how the eye communicates visual information to the brain, so any damage to it can result in permanent and irreversible vision loss.
Common risk factors for glaucoma include:
- Having family members with glaucoma
- A history of an eye injury or prior eye surgery
- Being African American, Asian or Hispanic
- Systemic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, heart disease
- Having thin corneas, especially at the center
- Being 40 years old or older
- Having high myopia (severe nearsightedness)
- Taking corticosteroids such as eye drops, pills or creams
Those 40 years old and older are at much higher risk for glaucoma, but that doesn’t mean younger people aren’t at risk. The best way to prevent irreversible damage to your eyes and vision is through early detection and treatment. This is why regular comprehensive eye exams that include glaucoma testing are so important for your long-term vision and eye health..
Depending on the type and severity of your glaucoma, various treatments are available, such as medications, prescription eye drops, and surgery.
Prescription medications and eye drops are meant to be nonsurgical solutions to lower the pressure inside the eye. They’re often the first choice for doctors looking to control their patients’ glaucoma and prevent vision loss. These drops may be slightly uncomfortable for some people, but keeping up with the treatment plan is key for beating glaucoma
Surgery to treat glaucoma is designed to either decrease the amount of fluid produced by the eye or to improve fluid drainage out of the eye. These are both ways to reduce eye pressure.
In some cases, your eye doctor may choose to treat your glaucoma with prescription medication or eye drops and surgery together.
For more information about glaucoma, and how we can help treat it, come visit our Lincoln Park eye doctors at Eye Mechanix, or give us a call at 773-857-1260 today!
Can glaucoma be cured?
No. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for glaucoma. However, your eye doctor should be able to help you manage it successfully. Early detection and treatment can significantly reduce the amount of damage glaucoma can cause to your eyes, and allow for successful disease management.
Are there new treatments for glaucoma available?
Though not yet out on the market, smart contact lenses for glaucoma show some promise in revolutionizing how the disease is treated. The lenses can sense eye pressure and release glaucoma drugs when needed, lowering inner eye pressure and preventing damage to the eye. Further study is needed to see how well the lenses will work.