Everything You Need to Know About Glaucoma
Posted January 23, 2018
You’ve probably heard of glaucoma, but do you know what it is, who’s at risk for it, and who it affects?
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and we’re here to fill you in on what you should know. Ready, set, go!
What is glaucoma?
Typically caused by fluid build-up in the front area of the eye, glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve and can (eventually) lead to blindness. In fact, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in those older than 60.
There are two different types of glaucoma:
Open-angle glaucoma is the most prevalent type of glaucoma. It occurs when the eye’s ability to drain fluid slows down (similar to a clogged drain.) This causes increased pressure in the eye, which in turn impairs the optic nerve. Unlike the next type of glaucoma that we’ll discuss, open-angle glaucoma is painless and causes no immediate change to your vision.
Closed-angle glaucoma is less common, however just as dangerous. This occurs when the iris blocks the eye’s drainage angle. Although one can develop closed-angle glaucoma gradually, it is not apparent until he or she experiences a severe attack. When the iris fully covers the drainage angle, a person will experience blurry vision, headaches, nausea, and severe eye pain. In this instance, it’s very important to seek immediate medical attention (1).
Who’s at High Risk for Glaucoma?
Although anyone can develop glaucoma, there are certain populations that are at higher risk than others. You might be at risk if you:
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are over the age of 40
- Are nearsighted or farsighted
- Have a thinning optic nerve
- Experience high eye pressure
- Have had an eye injury in the past
What Can Be Done to Prevent Glaucoma Progression?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. However, the good news is that there are ways to prevent glaucoma symptoms and its progression. With the right steps taken, blindness or severe loss of vision can be prevented.
- Schedule regular eye exams This is the best and most effective way to protect your eyes from the dangers of glaucoma. Be sure to visit an eye professional every 2-4 years if you’re under the age of 40, and every 1-2 years if you’re older than 40. Early detection is key to developing a treatment plan that will prevent vision loss.
- Protect your eyes If you’re involved in a physical sport, doing some home improvement works, or doing anything else that poses a threat to your eyes, be sure to protect them! Wearing protective eyewear can prevent injury, and thus prevent traumatic glaucoma.
- Exercise What?! Exercise can help your eyes? In addition to being great for your overall health, getting active can actually prevent high eye pressure.
The effects of glaucoma are permanent and cannot be reversed. Luckily, there are different treatments that can be performed to help stop any further damage.
- Medication Eye drop medications aren’t just for allergy season. Prescription grade eye drops can also be used to reduce eye pressure that causes glaucoma. However, it is important to know that there are several potential side effects to these medications, so you should talk to your eye doctor about what is best for you.
- Laser Surgery Laser Eye surgery seems to be the hot trend in the optometry world to help people correct their eyesight and ditch glasses. However, Laser surgery can be used for much more. This surgery can be used as a treatment for glaucoma to help drain the eye and alleviate and pressure that has built up.
- Microsurgery This is another form of surgery that helps drain the eye of any fluid that is causing built up eye pressure. There are a couple different types of microsurgery and what type of surgery you need will depend on what type of glaucoma you have.
Let Us Join Your Support System
Another key step in staying healthy is staying on top of your medication regimen. We care about your health, and we want to be a part of your support system. This is why MedaCheck’s app, Habit, sends off an alert when it’s time to take your medication, along with a photo of the drug, the name of the medication, and any specific instructions to take the medication properly—because it’s not just about taking your medication on time, it’s about doing it the right way. Want to learn more about MedaCheck’s easy-to-use medication reminder system? If you’re a hospital, care center, healthcare organization or home care provider, employer or individual, visit www.medacheck.com.