Glaucoma is a condition in the eye in which pressure on the optic nerve can cause gradual blindness and loss of vision. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes for blindness in the United States with roughly 2.7 million Americans affected by the disease, according to the National Eye Institute. Studies done by the National Eye Institute also indicate that in about 30 years, this number will have doubled. Because of this, glaucoma is frequently studied in regards to glaucoma surgery, including stem cells and more. People naturally have a fear of going blind or not being able to see, so glaucoma is often very worrisome to people. It is a very gradual progression and sometimes the condition can progress for years without the person noticing. The problem with this, however, is that once vision loss begins to occur, it cannot be recovered, only stopped with treatment. The most common glaucoma treatment is to find ways to remove or alleviate pressure from the optic nerve as that is the thing that causes blurred vision. This is usually done by medicine or drops that help the eye to produce less fluid so there is less chance of eye pressure or blockage, or some medicines also help the eye to better drain existing fluid. The optic nerve is the nerve at the back of the eye that goes straight to the brain and helps the brain process images. When vision is blurred or obstructed, it makes it difficult for the brain to process images. Truly the best way to avoid vision problems like glaucoma is by early detection. Early detection is done by ophthalmologists who perform comprehensive dilated eye exams. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is when an ophthalmologist dilates the pupils using a special kind of eye drop and then examines the eye with a specialized magnifying lens. This lens will help the doctor see if there are any signs of damage or blockage that could lead to glaucoma. Eye doctors recommend that people who are at high risk for glaucoma should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year or so.
People at a higher risk for glaucoma include people with a history of glaucoma in their family, older people, people with diabetes or high blood pressure or people taking medicine that increases pressure in the eyes. Some studies also suggest that people of African American and Hispanic descent are at a higher risk for glaucoma when they are above ages 40 and 60 respectively.
As with any kind of optic issue, it is important to seek out cataract treatment or glaucoma treatment when needed. The only way one will know if they have one of these conditions is by early detection. Early detection will ensure healthy eyes as well as put patients on the right path towards stopping glaucoma in its tracks and avoiding unnecessary blindness, vision impairment and overall optical difficulties. Just a little extra vigilance with eye health has helped many people be proactive about their sight and see better results in the long term.