Glaucoma has been called the “sneaky thief of sight.” Victims of this eye disease experience gradual vision loss that may not be recognized until it’s too late. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. If your family has a history of glaucoma, you have a 6% chance of developing the disease as well.
Pressure builds up inside the eye of the glaucoma patient. If treatment is not administered early, the optic nerve is damaged and vision begins to fade resulting in blindness.
There are several types of glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease and heredity is the most common factor.
· Open-angle glaucoma is caused by pressure build-up due to clogged drainage canals of the eye preventing fluid to flow out of the eye.
· Vision loss is gradual and can be treated with medication if caught early.
· It is vital that people over 40 have regular eye exams to measure intra-ocular eye pressure, especially if your parents or siblings have the disease.
Angle-closure glaucoma can progress gradually or suddenly. The iris blocks the drainage canals causing blurred vision, “rainbows” around lights, eye pain, headaches and nausea. Surgery relieves fluid trapped within the eye resulting in a long term or permanent solution. Other symptoms include the following:
· Halos, blurry or cloudy vision
· Vision decreases
· Severe eye pain
· Extreme sensitivity to light
· Excessive blinking and runny eye
· Crossed or out-turned eyes
· One eye becoming larger than the other
· Nausea, headache
Normal tension glaucoma can be treated with surgery or medication.
· The patient’s eye pressure is normal but the optic nerve is damaged.
· Cardiovascular disease can increase the risk of this form of glaucoma.
Congenital glaucoma occurs in babies when the eye doesn’t develop properly in uterine.
Secondary glaucoma is caused by disease, injury or other eye problems.
Other Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Anyone is susceptible to losing his or her eyesight from this devastating disease. Heredity plays a big role but there are other common factors that elevate risk.
- High blood pressure
- Low blood pressure for people 60 and over
· African Americans 40 and over – glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness
· Hispanics 60 and over have a higher risk of open angle glaucoma
· Asian & Eskimo descent have a higher risk of closed angle glaucoma
· Japanese Americans have a higher risk of normal tension glaucoma
· Risk rises significantly for people aged 40 and over
· 60 and over are 6-times more likely than others to develop glaucoma
- Diabetes – doubles the risk
· Dislocated lens retinal detachment
· Eye tumor
· Myopia – extreme nearsightedness
· Hyperopia – extreme farsightedness
· Thin corneas
- Steroid use