Glaucoma: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Diagnosis

At De Anza Vision Center, we are very familiar with glaucoma and the importance of helping our patients get an early diagnosis and treatment for the disease. It occurs when pressure within the eye causes damage to optic nerve, resulting in a progressive loss of vision. For some people, vision loss is partial and only affects the peripheral field. For others, glaucoma can lead to total blindness – especially when left untreated.

Glaucoma can only be diagnosed with a thorough vision exam that assesses the health of the optic nerve and also measures pressure in the eye. A glaucoma test does not cause any discomfort and usually requires only minutes to complete.

Glaucoma is often known as a silent disease, in that it may not cause any noticeable symptoms until your eyesight becomes compromised. The most common type of glaucoma – open angle glaucoma – causes no pain, but will instead cause intraocular pressure that results in a gradual loss of peripheral vision. In some cases, a person may experience a rapid increase in eye pressure that results in a sudden headache, eye pain, vision changes, and nausea. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of these symptoms.

Anyone can develop glaucoma, though there are certain risk factors associated with the disease. Having a thin cornea or high eye pressure, for example, could increase one’s chance of developing glaucoma.  The disease also tends to run in families and most commonly appears in older adults. However, even young children can develop the disease. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, 1 in every 10,000 babies born in the United States is born with congenital glaucoma.

Treating Glaucoma

As the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., glaucoma is a very serious disease that requires immediate vision treatment. Currently, there are more than 120,000 people living in America who have gone blind as a result of glaucoma. Unfortunately, the blindness is permanent and cannot be reversed. Though there is no cure for disease, diagnosis and treatment can help manage the condition and prevent further loss of vision. For most people living with glaucoma, there is time to make a difference – especially with an early diagnosis. However, it is estimated that only half of the 3 million Americans living with the disease are aware they have it.

The most efficient way of protecting your vision is to undergo periodic eye exams to check for the presence of glaucoma. Treatment can typically begin immediately following a diagnosis, maximizing the chances of a positive outcome. In fact, 90 percent of all people who receive adequate treatment for glaucoma will avoid going blind.

If you have not had a recent eye exam, do not wait to schedule an appointment. Anyone, young or old, can develop glaucoma without knowing it. The earlier the disease is treated, the better chance for a positive outcome. Contact us today to schedule your exam. We look forward to serving you soon.