Can You Detect Glaucoma?

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Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults over the age of sixty. It’s a condition that damages the optic nerve, leading to worsening vision over time.

Unfortunately, if you lose vision to glaucoma, the damage is irreversible. But glaucoma is detectable before it causes any damage.

Early detection can slow and even prevent vision loss. Keep reading to learn how you can detect glaucoma to keep your eyes healthy.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease that causes increased eye pressure or IOP. Your eyes contain fluid, called the aqueous humor, that flows through them.

When that fluid gets blocked from leaving your eye, IOP builds and can press on your optic nerve. Too much pressure on your optic nerve can damage it, resulting in vision loss.

When light enters your eye, it gets focused on your retina. Your retina contains light-sensitive cells that convert light into nerve impulses.

Those nerve impulses get sent down your optic nerve to your brain, which interprets the impulses, creating images. When your optic nerve becomes damaged, it affects your vision.

The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. It occurs when tissue in your eye’s drainage network, called the trabecular meshwork, gets blocked.

The drainage meshwork block causes IOP to rise slowly, which means open-angle glaucoma doesn’t cause symptoms in its early stages. The only way to detect it early is with an eye exam.

A rarer form of glaucoma, called angle-closure glaucoma, happens more quickly. It occurs when the iris bulges, blocking the channel between it and the cornea.

The pressure can build rapidly in angle-closure glaucoma. The block occurs suddenly and can cause immediate symptoms like severe headache, eye pain, and nausea.

If these symptoms occur, seek emergency medical treatment right away.

Does Glaucoma Have Symptoms?

Open-angle glaucoma has no physical symptoms. The only symptoms are vision loss, which occurs in the late stages.

Once symptoms occur, it is too late, and you already have permanent vision damage. Symptoms can begin as blind spots in your periphery and tunnel vision.

The more the optic nerve becomes damaged, the more your vision tunnels. Eventually, it can cause complete vision loss.

Symptoms occur after optic nerve damage has occurred, so it’s vital to detect glaucoma early. If you have open-angle glaucoma symptoms before diagnosis, you have permanent optic nerve damage. The only way to catch it early is through routine eye exams.

Glaucoma Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment

Open-angle glaucoma doesn’t show symptoms in the early stages. That is one reason why it’s crucial to have an eye exam at least once a year if you are over forty.

If you’re at high risk for glaucoma, your eye doctor may recommend more frequent appointments. Common glaucoma risk factors include:

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

Your eye doctor can detect glaucoma before any symptoms occur. They do this by measuring your IOP and examining your optic nerve.

Sometimes, they can detect increased eye pressure before your optic nerve has gotten damaged. This is ideal, as you can take eye drops to manage your IOP and prevent damage.

There are other glaucoma treatment options as well, including various types of surgery. But glaucoma treatment is more effective the earlier it begins.

That’s because once you have glaucoma, you cannot cure it, only manage it. It’s up to you to see your eye doctor regularly so they can detect and treat glaucoma early.

Without regular visits to your eye doctor, you risk losing your eyesight. Is it time for you to get an eye exam?

Schedule an appointment at Berg-Feinfield in Sherman Oaks, CA. Ensure your eyes are safe from glaucoma!