Glaucoma Risks and Treatment Options

March 11-17 is World Glaucoma Week and the perfect time to learn more about this potentially blinding condition and how early detection can make a difference.

When a person has glaucoma, the normal fluid pressure inside the eye slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve that’s responsible for transmitting images to the brain. If the elevated eye pressure continues, glaucoma will worsen one’s vision. Without treatment, it can cause blindness within a few years.

The good news is, glaucoma is treatable. The risk of blindness from glaucoma decreases when the condition is diagnosed and treated early.

Signs of Glaucoma

More than 3 million Americans – and more than 60 million people worldwide – have glaucoma, yet many don’t realize they have it. That’s because most people with glaucoma don’t have any pain or notice their initial vision loss.

Physicians diagnose glaucoma by combining an eye pressure test with a comprehensive eye exam that includes dilation. Patients with suspected glaucoma will also have a visual field test and an evaluation of the optic nerve. Having these tests on a regular basis can help detect glaucoma in its early stages before vision loss occurs.

Glaucoma can affect anyone, but people at higher risk include:

  • African Americans age 40 and older
  • Adults over age 60, especially Hispanics or Latinos
  • Those who have a family history of the disease.

As glaucoma progresses, symptoms might include a loss of peripheral vision, difficulty focusing on objects, seeing halos around lights, or blurred vision.

Glaucoma Treatment Options

Early detection and treatment of glaucoma give patients the best chance to maintain good vision. Damage cannot be reversed, but treatments can help slow or stop future vision loss. Glaucoma treatment can include eye drops to either reduce the formation of fluid in the eye or to increase its outflow, laser surgery, or microsurgery. An ophthalmologist can help determine a patient’s best treatment option.

To schedule a comprehensive eye exam with an Emory Eye Center doctor, call 404-778-2020.

Learn more about glaucoma and its symptoms and treatments.

About Emory Eye Center

The Emory Eye Center is the largest, most comprehensive eye care facility in Georgia, serving patients for more than 145 years. Our goals are simple: to provide the best possible eye care and save the sight of those in danger of losing it. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other eye care professionals treat individuals of all ages who need care ranging from annual vision exams to treatment of complex vision disorders. Our physicians also help train the ophthalmologists of tomorrow through residency and fellowship programs that are recognized as some of the best in the country. Scientists at Emory Eye Center are researching the causes of and improved treatments for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, genetic eye diseases and more. To learn more, visit the Emory Eye Center.

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