Family Health

Facts on Glaucoma: Symptoms, Testing and Treatment

Jan 7 • 2016

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, but many people aren’t aware of how serious this eye disease can be or how it can impact people of any age. In fact, more than 3 million Americans have glaucoma – but 50% of them don’t realize that they do. Glaucoma damages the eye’s optic nerve and can cause vision loss or even blindness if not treated early. We’ve outlined some of the key things you should know to protect yourself.

Symptoms of Glaucoma
When it first develops, glaucoma does not cause any symptoms or pain and your vision will even remain normal. As symptoms do begin to occur, peripheral vision loss is often the first thing people notice. Many people adjust by turning their head to compensate and may not even realize they are suffering from this symptom until they begin experiencing significant loss of vision. As time goes on, vision will continue to decrease until blindness occurs.

Testing for Glaucoma
The best way to identify glaucoma early is to have regular eye tests. In order to detect it, a comprehensive dilated eye exam is necessary. During this exam, the doctor will measure how well you see at different distances, your peripheral vision, how thick your cornea is, and the pressure in your eye. He will also use a magnifying glass to look for damage in your retina.

Treatment of Glaucoma
There is no cure for glaucoma at this time – once vision is lost, it cannot be repaired. However, there are some glaucoma treatment options including medications, traditional eye surgery, and laser surgery. It is important to remember that these options do have some side effects and may not restore vision to its original strength.

If you have any concerns about your eye health, speak to your doctor immediately so the correct steps can be taken to reduce the risk of vision loss. Remember that glaucoma can impact people of any age and that symptoms may not be immediately apparent. Being proactive is the best way to keep your vision healthy.