Sure, we have all heard of Glaucoma, but what exactly is it and who is really at risk of developing Glaucoma? To put it simply, Glaucoma is a very serious disease that potentially threatens ones ability to see the world around them. It is classified as a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball that causes gradual loss of sight. It is a very complicated disease in which damage to the optic nerve eventually leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss. Glaucoma threatens the eyesight of even the youngest of individuals to the oldest. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. The best way to prevent Glaucoma is to educate yourself of the facts surrounding this disease.
What are the facts?
So it’s pretty clear that anyone can contract this vision threatening disease, right? Well, what are some of the known facts of this disease one might ask? First off, age does play a factor. As mentioned earlier, even the youngest of individuals, such as infants can be affected, but the likelihood definitely increases with age, more specifically in patients over the age of 40. So going in for regular eye exams is critical to ones overall vision health.
As well as age, heredity is also another key factor for those who may be at risk for developing Glaucoma. The most common type of Glaucoma is identified as primary open-angle glaucoma. This type is considered to be hereditary. If one has immediate family members who have suffered from this disease, the risk of developing glaucoma increases dramatically. Family history increases the chances of developing glaucoma four to nine times over. One should sit and think for a moment or two, and ask, do I have any family members that have suffered from this disease that causes blindness? Early detection, through those regular and complete eye exams is key to protecting ones vision.
Elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP): is identified as abnormally high internal eye pressure located deep within the eye. When an individual has this specific pressure within the eye, eye damage increases and glaucoma developing also increase severely. People with diabetes, and those who are severely nearsighted are also at a very high risk for developing Glaucoma.
People of African, Asian and even Latino decent are known to be at a higher risk of developing glaucoma and they actually tend to develop this disease at a younger age. It is a fact that African Americans are 15 times more likely to be visually impaired by the disease of glaucoma than Caucasians.
After going over the facts and identifying those who may be at risk for developing Glaucoma, it is troubling that there are very little to no symptoms to warn an individual of this serious disease. Typically there is no pain associated with Glaucoma, even when there is pressure deep within the inner eye. Vision loss gradually begins with peripheral or side vision. If this begins to take place, an individual may over compensate for the gradual vision loss subconsciously without even being aware of it by turning their head to one side to be able to see and focus. This may cause the person to not even notice the significant vision loss at this point. So, again, the best way to protect oneself from this troubling disease is to regularly go through a complete eye exam once every two years.
Is there a cure for Glaucoma?
Unfortunately, no. There is preventative treatment and steps to be taken in order to stop the disease from increasing and causing permanent damage, but there is no cure or way to reverse its damage once it has taken affect. There is medication and surgery that can halt the progression, but it will be a life long condition that needs to be monitored. However, that does not mean that there never will be a cure. There is growing awareness of this blinding disease, but no real cure, yet.
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