According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. The organization estimates that over 3 million people in the United States and 60 million people worldwide have the disease.
January is dedicated as Glaucoma Awareness Month to help spread information about this potentially devastating condition and encourage early detection and treatment with a Houston ophthalmologist or optometrist.
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that often arise without symptoms. It primarily occurs in middle-aged and elderly people, but can affect you at any age. The condition damages the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss without treatment.
People of African, Asian and Hispanic descent are at higher risk for developing glaucoma. Those with family members who have it, diabetics, people with severe nearsightedness and those over 60 years old are also at higher risk.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are several treatment options. The earlier it’s caught, the better the chances of stopping the disease’s progress and saving your vision.
Types of Glaucoma
There are many different types of glaucoma, but the two main forms of the disease are:
Open-Angle Glaucoma: Also known as primary or chronic glaucoma, this is the most common form of the disease and accounts for approximately 90% of cases, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. This form is caused by the slow clogging of drainage canals that results in increase pressure in the eye. It develops slowly and is lifelong condition, often with symptoms and damage that are not noticed without a comprehensive eye exam.
Angle-Closure Glaucoma: A less-common form of the disease, this is also sometimes called acute or narrow-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is related to blocked drainage canals, which result in a sudden increase in intraocular pressure. Acute glaucoma develops rapidly, demands immediate medical attention and has very noticeable symptoms and damage.
What You Can Do
The most important thing you can do is get annual comprehensive eye exams with a Houston optometrist or ophthalmologist. During the exam, your eyes will be dilated with drops, which allows the doctor to detect signs of the disease.
Glaucoma is characterized by a painless and gradual loss of vision, often with no early signs or symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, it may be too late to prevent vision loss and eventual blindness.