Glaucoma is actually a catch-all term for a number of eye conditions that can lead to permanent damage to the eye’s optic nerve (the nerve responsible for relaying visual information to the brain’s visual cortex). Glaucoma begins with damage to the optic nerve. Peripheral (side) vision is usually the first aspect of vision that is affected.
At Pycraft Family Eye Care in Wooster, Ohio, we see a number of patients each year with late-stage glaucoma. One of the most important things to remember about glaucoma is that its progression can be halted or slowed so long as you get medical help early.
The Leading Cause of Blindness in Seniors
Glaucoma is the top cause of blindness for those approaching their senior years. Since the disease starts out slowly and the symptoms are not always obvious, the only way to spot glaucoma early on is through a comprehensive eye exam.
Typically Caused by High Intraocular Pressure
The chief cause of glaucoma is usually excessive intraocular pressure within the eye. This pressure may become so severe that the optic nerve suffers “nerve death” caused by a lack of blood flow and nutrients.
A surgery known as trabeculectomy can help relieve intraocular pressure by creating a void in the sclera (wall of the eye), but there is currently no medical treatment available to reverse damage to the optic nerve.
Who is at Risk?
Certain groups are at a greater risk for developing glaucoma. Risk factors include:
- Individuals over 60 years in age.
- African-American or Hispanic ancestry
- High blood pressure (or intraocular pressure)
- History of glaucoma in family
Schedule a Comprehensive Eye Exam
A comprehensive eye exam is one of the best ways to catch glaucoma before it has a chance to place your vision in jeopardy. If have high blood pressure, approaching your senior years, or glaucoma is known to run in your family, be sure to attend regular eye exams with your optometrist.