Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. It is a complicated eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve. It is progressive and can cause a permanent loss of vision if not treated. Waiting to see an eye doctor until you start to develop symptoms is not a good idea and could cost you your sight.
Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases characterized by high pressure in the eyes. The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma and it is hereditary. Angle-closure basically means tunnel vision.
Am I At Risk?
Everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma. But some groups are at higher risk and should be aware of their risk so they can regularly see their eye doctor. African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians are at high risk. People over 60, and those who have family members with glaucoma should be checked regularly. People who use steroids or have had an eye injury are at high risk. Those with high blood pressure, or hypertension and the nearsighted are at high risk.
If you fall into one or more of these groups, you need to see an eye doctor soon and regularly. Even if you don’t fall into a high-risk group, the possibility of permanent blindness is not a risk most people are willing to accept.
Won’t I Know If I Have Glaucoma?
Glaucoma, particularly in its early stages, may present no symptoms. You’ll have no pain, at first, and the vision loss starts with your peripheral vision. You may not notice a loss of peripheral vision because the brain often compensates by making you unconsciously turn your head to see something outside your range of sight.
Don’t Wait To Feel Symptoms
The late stages of glaucoma present symptoms that include acute and sudden eye pain, and headaches behind eyes and brow. Once you feel these symptoms, it may be too late. You may have irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Other symptoms of late stage glaucoma include red eyeballs, large pupils that do not react to light, night halloes or starbursts, blurred vision around lights, and tunnel vision. Even with surgery, at this point you may have permanent blindness.
Acute-angle closure glaucoma has few signs, but swollen irises and pressure build up inside the eye may cause red eye and headaches. Sudden visual problems can also cause nausea, vomiting and severe eye pain. Emergency treatment is warranted in this case.
Glaucoma Should Not Take Your Eyesight
When should you see an eye doctor for glaucoma? As soon as possible. Don’t wait or think if you don’t feel any problems that you don’t have glaucoma. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of permanent blindness, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing your risks, seeing your eye doctor regularly, and following your eye doctor’s instructions can preserve your sight and ensure continued health.