Glaucoma is an eye disorder that can damage vision and even lead to blindness. The condition affects millions of people around the world and is a leading cause of blindness. However, with early treatment, it is possible to slow the progression of glaucoma.
There are several different glaucoma causes and these can vary from person to person. Much of the time, glaucoma is related to increased pressure within the eye. For instance, high blood pressure will have this effect on the eye so anyone suffering from hypertension should also see an eye doctor to have their eyes tested for glaucoma. Correct eye care is important but for those with an elevated risk of glaucoma it is critical that their eyes are tested annually.
Genetics also play an important role in who is at risk of glaucoma and, while it is not the only cause, it does lead to an increased risk if a sufferer’s parents have it. Therefore, it is important to know the overall ocular health of your biological parents if at all possible. Other causes can include the prolonged use of steroids, and ocular trauma.
The primary glaucoma symptoms are a gradually progressive loss of the field of vision. This typically means that over time the things which appear at the outer edges of your vision will begin to be cloudy and, in time, the cloudiness will get worse and shrink your field of vision until blindness occurs. Many sufferers of glaucoma describe their sight as looking down a tunnel. This is because the outer edges are cloudy or dark while they can still see things which are in a straight line of sight.
Glaucoma sufferers may not even notice that they are having problems for years as the progression can often be quite slow. Because of this, regular eye check ups are important so a doctor can diagnose in the earlier stages. Without these checkups it is often not until the condition progresses to the point where it is interfering with day to day life that it is noticed; and at this point it may be too late for a cure so it is then a matter of trying to slow down the progression.
No matter what the cause, if left untreated, the end result is almost always blindness. There are drugs which can be taken to reduce the pressure – eye drops being one – and these can slow the progression of the glaucoma significantly, in some cases even stopping it altogether.
If caught early there may be no noticeable loss of vision and life can continue as normal, taking the medication regularly. Anyone who has been diagnosed with glaucoma should, of course, continue to get annual examinations by the eye doctor to make sure it is not progressing.