Beware of Glaucoma!
Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness. Everyone is at risk, but individuals over 60 are especially at risk. The risk rises in diabetics, people who are severely nearsighted, and those who have other family members who have been diagnosed with the disease. Statistics show that it is the second leading cause of blindness in African Americans.
What is Glaucoma?
There are six types of glaucoma, each of which damages the optic nerve, the nerve that carries information from the retina to the visual cortex of the brain. In most cases, glaucoma is due to ocular hypertension, or a higher than normal pressure inside the eye. It is often called “the silent thief of sight” because most types typically produce no symptoms and cause no pain until noticeable vision loss occurs. For many the progression of the disease remains undetected until the optic nerve is already irreversibly damaged, and some degree of permanent vision loss has occurred. If left totally untreated or uncontrolled it causes blindness.
Six Types of Glaucoma:
- (POAG) Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma – This is one of the two most common types. It gradually reduces peripheral vision with no other symptoms until tunnel vision occurs, and only objects straight ahead can be seen. The damage is permanent and irreversible.
- (ACG) Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma – Also commonly called narrow-angle glaucoma, this is the second most common type. It produces symptoms of intense eye pain, dilated eyes, blurry vision, halos around lights, red eyes, vision loss, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Most often these symptoms last for a few hours, subside, then return again. Progressive vision loss occurs with each attack. If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention so that steps can be taken to prevent permanent vision loss.
- Normal-Tension Glaucoma (otherwise known as normal-pressure glaucoma, low-tension glaucoma, or low-pressure glaucoma) – This is a type of open-angle glaucoma that causes visual field loss due to damage of the optic nerve leading to tunnel vision. However, the intra-ocular pressure remains in the normal range. This type of glaucoma is possibly due to poor blood flow to the optic nerve. It is most often seen in females of Japanese descent with a history of heart disease.
- Pigmentary Glaucoma – This is a rare form that most often affects white males between 30 and 50 years of age. It is caused by pigment breaking loose from the iris and clogging the drainage angle of the eye, thus reducing the rate of aqueous outflow. Over time, inflammation sets in due to the blockage, damaging the drainage system of the eye.
- Secondary Glaucoma – This form usually develops following an eye injury accompanied by infection, inflammation, tumor, or enlargement of the lens due to a cataract.
- Congenital Glaucoma – This is an inherited form of glaucoma present at birth. It is most often seen in boys. The signs include a cloudy, hazy, white, enlarged, or protruding eye.
- Have an intensive eye exam at least once a year.
- Maintain a physically active lifestyle.
- Regularly exercise.
- Do not smoke.
- Eat a healthy, well rounded diet.
- Maintain a healthy height/weight ratio.
As Henry Ford once stated, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” Glaucoma is a frightful thing! It is extremely important for caretakers to keep their eyes on the goal of good health by getting their aging parents’ eyes examined regularly. Prevent optic nerve damage and vision loss with early diagnosis and treatment.