Your eye’s optic nerve is made up of about a million small fibers that send signals from your eyes to your brain. Those signals tell your brain what your eyes are looking at. It’s important that your optic nerve is healthy for good vision, but there’s a common disease that could affect it.
The second leading cause of blindness, glaucoma most often is caused by high pressure buildup of fluid within the eye. That pressure damages the optic nerve. Without treatment, you can lose your peripheral (side) vision and eventually lose your sight all together.
Types of Glaucoma
There are several different types of glaucoma. There are different treatment options for the different types of glaucoma including medicines and laser surgery. Early detection, prompt treatment and regular monitoring can help to control glaucoma and reduce the chances for vision loss.
Identifying your type is the first step for your ophthalmologist. The most common types include:
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
The most common is primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. This type develops slowly and often without symptoms. Until you lose some vision, you may not be aware you have it.
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma
Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma happens quickly and is from a fast increase in eye pressure. This type of glaucoma is an emergency since vision loss can occur quickly. If you have severe eye pain, nausea, eye redness and are seeing halos or colored rings around lights and blurred vision, you should see your optometrist right away.
Secondary Glaucoma may be caused by medical conditions, eye injuries, medications, or eye diseases.
Normal-Tension or Low-Tension Glaucoma
In Normal-Tension or Low-Tension Glaucoma, your eye pressure stays normal, but your optic nerve gets damaged. No one knows why. It could be because your optic nerve is really sensitive or the blood supply to the nerve is restricted in some way.
Top 8 Glaucoma Risk Factors
Several things put you at greater risk for glaucoma. Talk to your ophthalmologist about your risk for getting glaucoma, especially if you have one or more of these risk factors.
1. You’re Over 40
Your risk for glaucoma increases a little with each year of age. According to the Glaucoma Foundation, if you are 40 years and older, you should have a comprehensive eye exam every 1½ to 2 years to screen glaucoma
2. You’re African American, Asian or Hispanic
Those who are African-American or people of African descent are much more likely to get glaucoma than those who are Caucasian. People of Asian descent have a higher risk of Angle-Closure glaucoma, and people of Japanese descent have a higher risk of developing Low-Tension glaucoma.
3. You Have Really Poor Eyesight
If you’re really nearsighted or farsighted some studies suggest this may also be a risk factor for getting glaucoma.
4. You’ve had an Eye Injury or Eye Surgery
Some get glaucoma after an eye injury or surgery. Trauma to your eye can cause damage and increase the pressure in your eye when the trauma happens and also in the future.
5. You Have Other Health Conditions
Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and Sickle Cell Anemia specifically may increase your risk of getting glaucoma.
6. You’ve Used Corticosteroid Medications
Using corticosteroids (drugs that act like hormones your body naturally makes) for a long time may raise your risk of getting glaucoma.
7. You Have Thin Corneas
The cornea is the eye’s clear, dome-shaped outer layer that covers the front of your eye. It helps you focus your vision. If you have thin corneas, that can lead to higher eye pressure, which can then put you more at risk of getting glaucoma.
8. It Runs in Your Family
It’s important to know your family history since glaucoma tends to run in families.
What else should you know about glaucoma? We spoke to an expert at Eye-Q Vision Care.