A miniscule buildup of blind spots, especially near the nose in the peripheral vision, is one of the first red flags of the debilitating eye disease known as glaucoma. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness and the vision loss that has occurred is permanent.
The most common cause of serious eye conditions, glaucoma requires an experienced ophthalmologist—such as the board-certified eye doctors at Colorado Ophthalmology Associates of Denver, CO—to catch in the early stages and to treat properly to prevent loss of vision. That’s why January is set aside to raise awareness of the group of eye conditions that fall under the category of glaucoma.
What Causes Glaucoma?
A healthy eye requires an even flow of fluid in and out. When aqueous fluid flows into the eye but the drainage angle doesn’t release the same amount of fluid, pressure begins to build up in the eye. This pressure damages the optic nerve. Once the optic nerve experiences pressure, some of the nerve fibers die, causing permanent blind spots. In early stages, it is almost impossible to notice this damage as it is happening.1
What are the Warning Signs of Glaucoma?
Early-stage glaucoma shows no symptoms but can be detected with regular eye exams. Symptoms of later stages of glaucoma include:2
- Patchy blind spots in the side vision
- Blind spots in the center vision
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Halos of light
- Redness of the eye
- Blurry vision
- Vision that blurs during exercise
- Blindness is one or both eyes
Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?
People who have slightly different optic nerves or who have other eye abnormalities may have a higher risk of getting glaucoma. Here are some common risk factors:1
- Age 40 and over
- African, Hispanic or Asian descent
- Family history of glaucoma, especially a sibling
- High eye pressure
- Current vision is farsighted or nearsighted
- Long time use of steroids
- Thin corneas
- Thin optic nerves
- Chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, blood circulation issues, migraines or other conditions that affect the whole body
- Past eye injury
What are the Treatment Options for Glaucoma?
Ophthalmologists can treat glaucoma with a system of medicines, such as eye drops, that can lower the eye pressure and prevent additional damage to optic nerves. Also, laser treatment can open the blocked drainage point. Finally, surgery can help reduce the eye pressure and restore proper flow of fluids.3 Cataract surgery can provide opportunities for minimally invasive procedures that may improve the control of glaucoma.
Get a comprehensive eye appointment today
To find out if you have any risk or symptoms of glaucoma, call one of our two Colorado locations in Denver or Lakewood for a comprehensive dilated eye exam with a visual field test.
Other good preventative tips include daily exercise, weight control, controlling high blood pressure and smoking cessation. Talk to your doctor about help with any of these health concerns.4 Finally, make sure to wear eye protection. Since serious eye injuries can lead to glaucoma, protecting your eyes is a great preventative step.2