Happy New Year! January is national Glaucoma Awareness Month.
Do you or a family member have glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness and affects over 3 million Americans and 60 million others globally.
There are many forms of glaucoma, but the most common type of glaucoma in the United States is called “open angle glaucoma.”
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma. The disease becomes more prevalent (common) as we get older. Family history is a huge risk factor, too.
Other risk factors for glaucoma;
- Family History
- African American patients have a higher chance > age 40
- Everyone above the age of 60 – especially Latino/Hispanic patients
- Farsighted/Asian patients
Symptoms of Glaucoma
In general, there are no immediate symptoms of glaucoma. In other words, most patients with glaucoma do not even know they have the disease. This is especially true of patients with open angle glaucoma. They are completely unaware until they lose central vision.
Pain, redness, tearing and nausea/vomiting can be signs of “angle closure” glaucoma and result from sudden and large increases in the eye pressure (Intraocular Pressure – IOP).
This usually does not happen in open angle glaucoma.
How to Diagnose Glaucoma?
Talk to your family if you have glaucoma. Early detection and treatment is vital to saving your vision.
Diagnosis of glaucoma can be made with a complete dilated eye exam.
One of the early findings of glaucoma is loss of peripheral or “side” vision. This is true of every type of glaucoma. Subtle loss of your visual field may be the only sign of the disease.
Here are some of the diagnostic tools your eye doctor may consider;
- Visual field testing – looking for loss of peripheral vision
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is useful for actually measuring destroyed optic nerve tissue
- Eye pressure (Intraocular Pressure, IOP)
- Dilated Eye Examination allows direct examination of your retina and optic nerve
If you have risk factors of glaucoma or if you are concerned, make a New Year’s resolution to get examined! Early detection and treatment is the key to saving your sight.
All the best
Randall V. Wong, M.D. is a board certified ophthalmologist practicing in northern Virginia. Though a retina specialist, this website contains information on various eye diseases.