Glaucoma is one eye condition that demands regular and frequent visits to the eye doctor. It can take your eyesight without you even knowing that you have it.
Often, by the time you become aware you have glaucoma, it is too late. If you have not been diagnosed with it and symptoms begin to appear, you may already have permanent vision loss.
That’s why glaucoma has the nickname the silent thief of sight. Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma and why eye exams are essential for an early glaucoma diagnosis.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a collection of diseases that cause vision loss by damaging your optic nerve. Your optic nerve connects your retina to your brain. Without a healthy functioning optic nerve, seeing clearly is difficult or impossible.
Glaucoma results from gradual increases in the pressure in your eyes called intraocular pressure or IOP. The most common type of glaucoma, called primary open-angle glaucoma or POAG, gradually increases your IOP over years.
Often it pushes on your optic nerve and damages it before you notice any visual symptoms. That’s because your brain is adept at filling in minor losses in your eyesight to create a complete image, even if that is not what is reaching your brain.
But, eventually, POAG presses so hard on your optic nerve it causes damage to the nerve, resulting in vision loss. Optic nerve damage is permanent. Once it happens, there is no way to fix the damage and get your eyesight back.
The other most common type of glaucoma is acute angle glaucoma. It does not build pressure slowly in your eyes but instead steals your vision in one event.
You can be fine one day without any symptoms and have vision loss with minimal warning the next day. The symptoms of acute angle glaucoma are:
- Tunnel vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye pain
- Extreme pressure in your eyes
If you notice these symptoms appearing suddenly, seek immediate medical attention. Acute angle glaucoma is a medical emergency that can result in total vision loss if untreated.
Can You Prevent Glaucoma?
There is no cure or way to prevent glaucoma, but that doesn’t mean you will lose your vision if you have it. If your glaucoma gets diagnosed early, you can get it treated to keep your IOP low and prevent vision loss.
But, that means you need to see your eye doctor regularly. The only way to diagnose glaucoma is with a comprehensive eye exam.
If your eye doctor suspects you have glaucoma, they may run extra tests for a definitive diagnosis. Only eye doctors can diagnose glaucoma.
An early diagnosis is the only way to prevent vision loss if you have it. So, the only way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma is to see your eye doctor often.
If they diagnose you with glaucoma, there are various treatment options available to help maintain low IOP. With these treatments, you should be able to keep your IOP at healthy levels.
But, there is no way to get rid of glaucoma once you have it. You can only maintain it with medications, surgery, or a combination of both.
Are you concerned you may have glaucoma? If you haven’t been to your eye doctor in more than a year or two, it’s time to schedule a checkup.
Schedule an appointment at Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Arizona in Glendale, AZ. Ensure you don’t have glaucoma and that your eyes are healthy with a comprehensive eye exam!