Glaucoma is the second leading cause of preventable blindness in the world. More than four million Americans have glaucoma, but according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, only half of these individuals know they have the disease.
Here's what you need to know about glaucoma, its symptoms and treatment options.
What causes glaucoma?
Glaucoma occurs when increased eye pressure damages the optic nerve. If left untreated, this type of damage can result in blindness, as the optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images from the eye to the brain.
What are the symptoms?
Glaucoma is often asymptomatic and the increased eye pressure is never felt. The most common type is open-angle glaucoma, which generally doesn't have detectable symptoms. There are things you can look for if you suffer from angle-closure glaucoma:
- Severe headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Rainbow-colored halos around lights
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam immediately. Even if you don’t notice any signs, it’s best to schedule regular check-ups with your ophthalmologist, especially if you have any family history of glaucoma. Upon an initial exam, your doctor can recommend the best frequency of visits base on your vision history and age. Glaucoma is often, but not always, inherited. If you have any relatives with glaucoma, it is imperative that you be seen by a qualified eye care provider.
What are the treatment options for glaucoma?
While damage from glaucoma is a permanent condition, there are several treatment options that can help prevent any further damage to your vision. The most common treatment for glaucoma is medication in the form of eye drops or laser treatment, which can help reduce eye pressure. Surgery may also be an option to help lessen pressure on the optic nerve.
"We now have some very safe procedures that we combine with cataract surgery that can reduce a patients need for drops," says Dr. Robert G. Reuther with Carolina Eyecare Physicians in Summerville, S.C.
If you suspect you may have glaucoma, or would like to set up a screening eye exam, visit a reputable eye care provider, like the team at Carolina Eyecare Physicians. Dr. Reuther offers consultative Ophthalmology services and surgical treatment for glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
To schedule a consultation, call Carolina Eyecare Physicians today at 843-873-5577.