Glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Glaucoma is also the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.
What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. This condition damages the eye's optic nerve over time, causing vision loss or blindness. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires and is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.
What are the different types of Glaucoma? There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma. These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal IOP, this is called normal tension glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma refers to any case in which another disease causes or contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss. In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.
Who/what are the risk factors of Glaucoma? Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages. Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. It is more prevalent among African American and Latino populations. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people suffering from sleep apnea. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.
What can be done if I were to have Glaucoma? There is no cure for glaucoma—yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease. The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.