Eye Exams and Vision Care at Eye Care Associates
Glaucoma affects approximately 3.5 million North Americans aged 40 and older. It is a primary cause of preventable vision loss and blindness among adults on this continent and around the world.
Glaucoma is three to four times more common, and 15x more likely to cause blindness in African Americans than in Caucasians. The prevalence of glaucoma rises rapidly in Hispanics over the age of 65.
While there is currently no cure, early detection with an annual comprehensive eye exam can slow or prevent vision loss. So get your eyes checked at Eye Care Associates in Flagstaff before it’s too late.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve. This nerve is the only neural communication between the eyes and the brain, so any damage in that area causes permanent and irreparable vision loss.
The main risk factor is increased pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). IOP usually increases due to the buildup of excess fluid inside the eye, which damages the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and even blindness.
While glaucoma is most common in those aged 40 and over, it can occur at any age. Early detection and treatment can often prevent glaucoma-related damage. This is why it is absolutely crucial to undergo routine comprehensive eye exams that include glaucoma testing.
What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
Open-angle glaucoma (OAG) is the most common type of glaucoma, accounting for over 90% of all glaucoma patients. This type of glaucoma has no obvious symptoms until irreparable damage to the optic nerve has occurred. This condition is often called the ‘Silent Thief of Sight’ and results in vision loss known as ‘tunnel vision.’
Normal-tension glaucoma, also called low-tension glaucoma, affects up to 30-40% of all glaucoma patients with OAG. In these cases, the optic nerve is damaged even though the pressure in the eye is within normal limits. People with this kind of glaucoma may experience:
- Migraine headaches
- Cold hands and feet
- Low blood pressure
A far less common form of the disease is closed-angle glaucoma (CAG), affecting up to 10% of all patients. In this sight-threatening eye disease, the IOP can suddenly spike to over 50mmHg — more than double the normal range. This condition requires immediate emergency medical care as vision loss can be more dramatic and occurs quickly. Closed-angle glaucoma often presents with some or all of these symptoms:
- Blind spots in the peripheral vision
- Sudden severe pain in the eye or forehead
- Eye redness
- Decreased or blurred vision
How to Manage Your Glaucoma
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, the good news is that if it is detected early, the condition can be treated and controlled to prevent vision loss. Most glaucoma patients can successfully manage their condition with eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or surgery. All of these help to reduce the pressure on the eye by lessening the production and inflow of aqueous fluid into the eye or increasing the outflow pathways for more effective drainage from the eye.
It's important to remember that having regular eye exams is vital, as glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss before you are even aware of any signs. Irreparable vision loss and blindness can be prevented if the disease is recognized in its early stages. Contact Eye Care Associates in Flagstaff to book your comprehensive eye exam today!
- A: While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are several treatments that can help slow down or prevent damage to your eyes. Treatments include eye drops, oral medication, surgeries and therapies such as filtering surgery, Laser therapy, drainage tubes, and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS)
- A: The only way to prevent glaucoma is to undergo regular eye exams as significant vision loss or blindness can be prevented if glaucoma is diagnosed and treated in its early stages.
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