More than 2.2 million Americans age forty and older have glaucoma, but one half may be unaware they have this potentially blinding disease because they have no symptoms.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged. It can be associated with elevated pressure inside the eye and can lead to vision loss.
The exact cause of primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, is uncertain. However, some of the other forms of glaucoma may occur along with other abnormalities of the eye.
There are usually no symptoms at first, but as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice his or her vision gradually failing with:
- Blurred vision
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Difficulty focusing on objects
- Presence of halos around lights
Although anyone can develop glaucoma, those who are at higher risk and should have an eye exam at least every one to two years include:
- African Americans over age 40
- Individuals over age 50
- People with a family history of glaucoma
- Individuals that have experienced a serious eye injury
- People with other health conditions, such as diabetes (exam every year)
Although glaucoma cannot be cured, early detection and treatment can usually preserve vision.
An Eye M.D. can help control glaucoma by lowering intraocular pressure with eye drops, laser treatments or surgery. However, vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be restored and if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.