Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in older individuals passed the age of 60. Worldwide, it is the number one cause of permanent blindness while in the USA it is the second most common. Glaucoma occurs when there is damage to the optic nerve of the eye often occurring very slowly over many years due to increased ocular pressure. The damage is associated with a failure in the mechanism in which aqueous fluid is produced and cycled through the eye. The outcome of this defect results in increase fluid in the eye which of which the increased pressure causes damage to sensory function of the eye leading to blindness over time.
Though the full mechanism of why some people are more at risk than others is not fully elucidated, some criteria such as genetics and demographics have been linked. Some of which include age over 60 and age over 40 for African Americans, a family history of glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, history of multiple eye surgeries, steroid medication, and the need for corrective lenses.
Glaucoma is often undiagnosed because patients do not realize degradative eye changes are occurring due to the degree of gradual loss. Usually, patients will not take action until it is too late due to the simple reason of not noticing what is occurring. Another reason is misinformation and lack of understanding that glaucoma is very common and can happen to anyone regardless of how healthy their lifestyle may be.
Prevention and effective treatment as early as possible are the key to proper care in glaucoma. It is recommended that beginning at the age 40, individuals should establish regular eye exams where an eye care professional can evaluate the pressure levels of the eye and catch early signs of glaucoma.
A definitive cure for glaucoma is not available yet, however medications and surgery can be very effective in reducing symptoms and gradual vision loss. The medications work by reducing fluid production in the eye or increasing the rate at which fluid is drained to overall reduce pressure. We recommend everyone reach out to their primary care physicians for further questions and personalized recommendations concerning ocular care.