Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. While it is quite common, it is not as common as you may believe. As a matter of fact, only about 3 million Americans suffer from the disease, of which only about 120,000 actually are blinded by it. Part of the reason that only 120,000 people are actually blinded by glaucoma is that only half of the affected people are actually aware they are suffering from the disease. Therefore, it is essential to understand what glaucoma is and whether you are at risk.
Modern medicine has defined glaucoma as a “series of conditions, characterized by a particular form of optic nerve damage, that is often associated with elevated IOP” or eye pressure. There are several different types of the disease. Open angle glaucoma is also referred to as chronic or primary glaucoma and is the most common form. Angle closure glaucoma is not as common and is caused by a blocked drainage canal. Unlike open angle glaucoma, the angle between the iris and cornea is closed or narrow.
While these types of glaucoma are the most common, other types also exist, including, but not limited to:
Each type creates pressure on the eye, limiting vision. Unlike cataracts and other eye diseases or vision issues, there are often no early symptoms and by the time they appear, it may be too late to treat.
Risk Factors Leading to Glaucoma
While glaucoma may not have any early symptoms, there are risk factors that make you more of a candidate for the eye disease than not. This is one eye ailment in which genetics plays a large role. One risk factor is a family history. If your family has a history of the disease, you may be more likely to develop it. As with many other ailments, age and race is also a factor. Generally, those over forty and/or of African American or Hispanic origin are more likely to develop glaucoma. Finally, health can be a risk factor that could lead to the development of glaucoma. Issues such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, eye injuries, thin corneas, thinning of the optic nerves, diabetes, migraines, and even poor blood circulation can all lead to an individual being at higher risk of developing glaucoma.
The key, as with any eye health issue, is to maintain a healthy eye exam schedule and relationship with your optometrist. It is essential to have our eyes examined at least once a year, even if you are not considered a high risk candidate for glaucoma. If an issue arises during your eye exam, discuss the issue and its solutions with your eye doctor immediately to stay on top of your vision and eye health. Like any ailment, even if risk factors are not present in your life, you may still develop glaucoma or any other ailment.
If you are looking for an eye doctor you can trust that will view you as family, as opposed to just another patient, contact Rittenhouse Associates today. We will gladly perform an eye exam and begin a relationship with you and your family that you can trust for years to come.