While doctors estimate that 2.7 million Americans over the age of 40 have glaucoma, it’s believed that half of those patients don’t even know they have it. One of the only ways to detect eye problems is to have regular eye exams every one to two years. This could be critical in preventing eye problems later in life.
What is Glaucoma?
A professor of ophthalmology at Mount Sinai, Dr. Janet Serle, exclusively treats patients with glaucoma.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month
“Glaucoma is a chronic disease that causes damage to the optic nerve that connects the back part of the eye to the brain,” says Serle. “If inadequately treated, glaucoma can lead to blindness, which is why it’s so important to see an eye doctor regularly and get diagnosed quickly if glaucoma does develop.”
Glaucoma is caused by a problem in the “plumbing” of the eye. The pressure inside the eye reaches more than normal for the tissue to function normally and this leads to nerve damage. Being aware of eye problems is critical for the health of your eyes so early detection and treatment is essential to prevent vision loss.
Glaucoma can be detected during an eye exam so it is essential that you take eye exams every 1 – 2 years whether you wear glasses or not.
The symptoms of glaucoma are mainly unnoticeable until you reach an advanced stage. If the pressure inside the eye increases, you may perceive that you are seeing halos around lights or you could over time develop a loss of side vision.
2 Types of Glaucoma:
Primary Open angle glaucoma is when the normal drainage canals in the eye become blocked, which increases the fluid pressure inside the eye. As the pressure increases, your vision may worsen. With this type of glaucoma, your vision would become impaired over time. There is virtually no pain.
Primary Closed angle glaucoma is when suddenly the fluid in the eye stops draining. This involves a buildup of fluid in the eye, causing a distance between the iris and the drainage system, which creates a blockage. When this blockage or closure happens it creates vision problems. This type can occur when there is a sudden onset of symptoms such as eye pain, nausea, redness in the eye and blurred vision.
There are a few preventive measures that you may take to if you feel that you are risk of developing vision problems:
- Do not drink more than eight glasses of water a day – excessive amounts of fluid can build pressure
- Avoid wearing tight collars
- Stay away from standing on your head. Such as some yoga exercises
- Make sure to contact your Doctor before beginning any excessive weight training programs
- Stay away from musical instruments that you have to blow hard into
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