Are you starting to notice that it is hard to see using your peripheral vision in both eyes? Are you aware of having glaucoma in your family medical history?
This is only one of the signs and risk factors tied to glaucoma. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.
The goal of this month is to bring awareness to the signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with glaucoma. Keep reading to learn more about why Glaucoma Awareness Month is important!
Why is Glaucoma Dangerous?
Glaucoma is harmful because it damages your optic nerve. You need to have a healthy optic nerve to be able to see clearly.
The reason glaucoma damages your optic nerve is because it causes the pressure in your eye to increase. For adults 60 and older, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. But while it is possible for anyone to be diagnosed with glaucoma, it is more common in older adults.
Glaucoma has the nickname of being the secret thief of sight because most kinds of glaucoma don’t have any warning signs or symptoms. For many people, they’ve already experienced vision loss from this condition by the time they receive a diagnosis.
Unfortunately, damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible. That means if you lose any vision from glaucoma, you can’t get it back.
This is why annual eye exams are so important. This is the only time your ophthalmologist can look at your eyes.
One of the things they will measure is your eye pressure. They will continue to monitor it so they can figure out what is a healthy range for your eyes.
This way, if something changes, they will notice it before it is a problem. The key to preventing or slowing down vision loss is receiving an early diagnosis and treatment.
Once adults reach the age of 65, they need to have annual eye exams. Even with healthy eyes and good vision, this is still something you need to do.
There are many factors that play into people developing glaucoma. Some of the risk factors include being 60 or older or having very high interior eye pressure.
Another risk factor of glaucoma is it can be genetic and hereditary. Other risk factors include:
- If you have glaucoma in your family history, you have a higher chance of developing it
- If you are Hispanic, Asian, or African American
- If you are extremely nearsighted or farsighted-If you have high blood pressure, sickle cell anemia, heart disease, or diabetes
- If the central part of your corneas are too thin
- If you have used corticosteroid medication for long periods of time
- If you have had eye injuries or had specific types of eye surgery
It’s important to disclose these risk factors to your eye doctor whenever you go in for an eye exam.
The symptoms of glaucoma differ depending on what kind of glaucoma you have, as well as what stage you may be in. Common kinds of glaucoma include:
Acute Angle-closure Glaucoma
Acute angle-closure glaucoma creates intense headaches, eye pain, nausea, and vomiting. You may also experience cloudy vision, eye redness, and halos around lights.
Another kind of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common kind. This kind of glaucoma can occur in both eyes. It causes tunnel vision and blind spots in your peripheral or central vision.
If you start developing these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
The best way to keep your eyes healthy and diagnose glaucoma early on is by getting frequent eye exams, especially since glaucoma can sneak up on you. If you have any of the risk factors, your eye doctor may recommend more frequent eye exams.
Do you think that you might have glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at EyeHealth Northwest in Portland, OR now!