Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S., yet remains one of the least understood visual conditions. It most often affects people over age 40. People who have a family history of glaucoma, African Americans and those who are very nearsighted or diabetic are at a higher risk of developing the disease as well.
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which the passages that normally allow fluid to drain become clogged or blocked. The blockages increase pressure in the eye which in turn damages fibers in the optic nerve. The most common type of glaucoma develops gradually and painlessly, without symptoms. A rarer type occurs rapidly and its symptoms may include blurred vision, loss of side vision, seeing colored rings around lights and pain or redness in the eyes.
Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if diagnosed and treated early, it can be controlled. A comprehensive vision exam includes the following tests which will help detect glaucoma:
• tonometry test to measure the pressure in your eyes
• examination of the inside of your eyes and optic nerves
• visual field test to check for changes in central and side vision.
The treatment for glaucoma includes prescription eye drops and medicines to lower the pressure in the eyes. In some cases, laser treatment or surgery may be effective in reducing pressure.
Ocular hypertension is increased pressure in the eyes that is above normal with no detectable changes in vision or damage to the eyes. The term is used to distinguish people with elevated pressure from those with glaucoma, a serious eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. Your doctor of optometry can check the pressure in your eyes with an instrument called a tonometer and can examine the inner structures of your eyes to assess your overall eye health.
Ocular hypertension can occur in people of all ages, but it occurs more frequently in African Americans, those over age 40 and those with family histories of ocular hypertension and/or glaucoma. It is also more common in those who are very nearsighted or who have diabetes.
Not all people with ocular hypertension will develop glaucoma. However, there is an increased risk of glaucoma among those with ocular hypertension, so regular comprehensive optometric examinations are essential to your overall eye health. There is no cure for ocular hypertension, however, careful monitoring and treatment, when indicated, can decrease the risk of damage to your eyes.