Glaucoma is a complex eye condition that is often associated with elevated intraocular pressure. It's a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old, but blindness from glaucoma can often be prevented with early detection and treatment. This disease often provides no warnings or symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred, which is why it's often referred to as the "sneak thief of sight.” Understanding the risk factors and knowing who is susceptible to glaucoma can help you assess your risk level and take proactive steps to protect your eye health.
Several factors can increase your risk of developing glaucoma. Age is a significant risk factor; people over the age of 60 are six times more likely to get glaucoma. The risk is even higher for those with a family history of the disease. But glaucoma can strike at any age; it's not exclusive to the elderly.
Ethnic background also plays a role in glaucoma risk. Individuals of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent are at a higher risk of developing certain types of glaucoma.
Other risk factors include high myopia, diabetes, eye inflammation, and physical injuries to the eye. Hypertension and hypotension can also contribute to this eye condition.
Additionally, prolonged use of corticosteroids, especially in the form of eye drops, has been linked to glaucoma.
Regular eye exams play a crucial role in the early detection of glaucoma before it causes major vision loss. The type of glaucoma most people have has virtually no symptoms, so regular exams are the only way to catch the disease early.
A comprehensive glaucoma check includes several tests. Eye doctors will measure intraocular pressure, inspect the eye's drainage angle, examine the optic nerve for damage, and test the peripheral vision of each eye.
If you're at risk for glaucoma, regular, comprehensive eye exams can help your eye doctor detect the condition early. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed, the less damage it can do and the more vision you can preserve.
Once glaucoma is diagnosed, the optometrist can initiate treatment to lower eye pressure and slow down or prevent further vision loss. They can prescribe medications, recommend laser treatments, or refer patients to a specialist for surgery if necessary.
Beyond regular eye exams and treatment, certain lifestyle changes can also help reduce your risk of glaucoma. Regular exercise has been shown to lower eye pressure, which can reduce your risk of developing the disease.
A healthy diet is also beneficial. Some studies suggest that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fish and low in caffeine can help protect against glaucoma. Drinking fluids slowly, rather than in large amounts at once, can also prevent sudden increases in eye pressure.
Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can also contribute to eye health and lower the risk of glaucoma. It's also advisable to protect your eyes from severe wind and airborne debris with sunglasses when outside, as these can lead to increased eye pressure.
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease, but its progression can be slowed down and vision can be preserved through early detection and treatment. Regular eye exams are crucial to detecting glaucoma early before significant vision loss occurs. Optometrists play a vital role in diagnosing and managing glaucoma, helping to preserve vision and maintain quality of life for their patients.
If you are at risk of developing glaucoma, take charge of your eye health and schedule a comprehensive eye exam today. Visit O’Rourke Vision Care in our Pleasant Hills office. We provide the highest-quality optometric services to all of our patients. Call 412-725-2020 to schedule an appointment today.