By Kate Ranta on Jan 4, 2021 @ 04:07 PM
Ignoring the signs of glaucoma is easy. After all, we tend to think it won’t ever happen to us. But if it does, it sneaks up so gradually that many of us don't realize that we have it without an eye exam.
Did you know that cases of glaucoma are on the rise? Over 3 million Americans have glaucoma and only half of them realize they have it. Projections by the National Eye Institute indicate that a whole lot more of us—58 percent more—will have this shadowy eye disease by the year 2030. That’s a whopping 4.2 million of us, just in the U.S. alone.
Glaucoma is one of the top leading causes of blindness in the world. This disease should not be ignored or go undiagnosed for too long.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a type of eye disease that causes blindness by damaging the optic nerve which generally sends images to your brain.
“Open-angle glaucoma” is the most common type. The second type is “acute angle-closure glaucoma.” Both end in blindness if left untreated.
Unfortunately, no cure exists for glaucoma. Early detection, however, means that your eye doctor can prevent blindness by stopping the glaucoma from getting worse with medication and/or surgery.
Who is at Risk?
The first thing to know is that anyone can get this eye disease. According to researchers, nearly half of the people who have glaucoma don't even know it!
The second thing to recognize is that some people are more at risk than others.
Here are basic risk factors for who is more likely to get glaucoma:
- Everyone age 60 or older
- African, Asian and Hispanic descent
- People who have diabetes
- Those who are severely near-sighted
- People with a family history of the disease
Since so many people are at risk of getting glaucoma, we can each make a real difference by ensuring that our loved ones set up an eye exam with an optometrist.
Know the Signs
Open-angle glaucoma initially has no signs until the damage to the optic nerve is severe enough to cause you to lose your side vision. If it's left untreated, blindness will follow.
With acute angle-closure glaucoma, you may experience these signs: severe pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and seeing a rainbow halo around lights. Note: if you experience these signs, it is urgent that you see an eye doctor right away who can diagnose the situation and prevent blindness from occurring.
Early detection is key. Your eye doctor can diagnose glaucoma with a simple test. Be sure to ask your eye doctor to include a test for glaucoma with each exam, and plan to have those eye exams on a regular basis. Check with your vision plan to see what's covered. And, talk to your eye doctor about how often you should have your eyes tested to keep your vision as strong as possible.