Glaucoma is associated with higher-than-normal pressure inside the eye (ocular hypertension). If untreated or uncontrolled, glaucoma first causes peripheral vision loss and eventually can lead to blindness. Globally, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness (behind cataracts), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The two main types are open-angle and acute angle-closure. Distinguishing both types is important as their management is different.
At first, open-angle glaucoma has no symptoms. It causes no pain. Vision stays normal. Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes.
Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision. As glaucoma remains untreated, people may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead (central) vision may decrease until no vision remains.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, early diagnosis and continuing treatment can preserve eyesight. Nerve damage and vision loss from glaucoma cannot usually be reversed; however, glaucoma can generally be controlled.
The treatment of glaucoma is aimed at reducing intraocular pressure. The most common first-line treatment for glaucoma is usually prescription eye drops. In some cases, systemic medications, laser treatment and/or another surgery may be required.
When it comes to glaucoma, risk reduction is a simple matter of damage control. Aside from following healthy lifestyle recommendations, we have little control over whether we develop glaucoma or not.
If you are over the age of 40 and if you have a family history of glaucoma, you should have a complete eye exam with an eye doctor every one to two years. If you have health problems such as diabetes or a family history of glaucoma or are at risk for other eye diseases, you may need to visit your eye doctor more frequently.
RISKS – IF LEFT UNTREATED
Glaucoma can cause blindness if it is left untreated. And unfortunately, approximately 10% of people with glaucoma who receive proper treatment still experience loss of vision.