Next to cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the world today. Glaucoma is not just one disease; it is an entire group of eye diseases that is characterized by elevated eye pressure that damages the optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve is irreversible, and permanent vision loss can occur if glaucoma is not discovered in the early stages. There is currently no cure for glaucoma, and the existing treatments only serve to help prevent further vision damage.
Regular comprehensive eye exams are the best way to detect glaucoma at the earliest possible stage. During a comprehensive eye exam, your ophthalmologist will perform many tests to detect eye conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, focusing problems, color blindness, cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. Glaucoma is often tested by tonometry, or a pressure test that blows a small puff of air into each eye. If elevated pressure is present in either eye, your ophthalmologist will know immediately.
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, there are many treatments that your ophthalmologist can suggest. Many glaucoma patients begin their treatment by using medicated eye drops that help bring their eye pressure down to a safe level. If you have more advanced stages of glaucoma, your doctor may present other options like laser procedures or surgery to open up the filtration system in the eye or to shunt inner eye fluid away from the eye to lower eye pressure.
Because glaucoma often has no symptoms in the early stages, your best defense against glaucoma is having routine eye exams. A glaucoma test will be able to detect the disease much earlier than waiting for symptoms to present. One of the earliest warning signs of glaucoma is narrowing of the visual field, or reduced peripheral vision. By the time you may notice changes in your vision, the disease has often progressed to a more advanced stage.
Don’t take chances when it comes to your eyesight. Take a few moments to call your ophthalmologist to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. It will help prevent glaucoma and keep your vision healthy for years to come.