One of the most common causes of vision loss throughout the world is glaucoma. This term doesn’t describe a single condition, but a variety of eye issues that can damage your optic nerve. Your optic nerve sends important visual information to your brain for processing, so keeping it healthy is vital when it comes to preserving your sight.
This January, in honor of National Glaucoma Awareness Month, our experienced team at Ethos Medical Group in Orange, California, wants to help spread the word about this potentially serious condition.
How glaucoma works
Glaucoma is a condition in which there is increased pressure in the eye, often due to fluid buildup. Over time, the pressure causes the optic nerve to deteriorate, which interferes with its ability to send images to the brain. As a result, sufferers develop blind spots in their vision. Without treatment, approximately 15% of people with glaucoma go blind in at least one eye within 20 years of the condition starting.
There are different types of glaucoma, and they can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Blind spots in your side or central vision, often in both eyes
- Tunnel vision
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Eye pain or redness
- Severe headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
Since glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss, it’s essential to recognize your personal risks and get a diagnosis as early as possible to avoid irreversible damage.
Recognizing your risks for glaucoma
One of the most common causes of glaucoma is heredity, and researchers have even linked specific genes to optic nerve damage and high eye pressure.
Other factors that can increase your chances of developing glaucoma include:
- Being age 60 or older
- Being Asian, Hispanic, or African American
- Having certain health conditions, such as diabetes, sickle cell anemia, or heart disease
- Taking corticosteroid medications, especially by way of eye drops, for long periods
Your risks of developing glaucoma are also higher if you have high internal eye pressure, corneas that have thin centers, or a history of eye injury or surgery. Men and women who are extremely nearsighted or farsighted also have higher rates of glaucoma.
Protecting yourself from glaucoma
While you may not be able to prevent glaucoma from developing, you can take steps to slow its progression and preserve your vision. These simple steps can help you detect eye problems early and keep you healthy:
- Get regular comprehensive eye exams that include dilation
- Learn your family’s health history
- Get regular, moderate exercise
- Use all prescription medications exactly as directed
You should also wear eye protection when engaging in activities that can lead to eye injuries.
To learn more about glaucoma and how to fight it, book an appointment online or over the phone with Ethos Medical Group today.