Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that is most often associated with high pressure inside the eye-Intraocular Pressure (IOP)-that damages the nerve and causes progressive loss of vision. In the United States, there are more than three million people with glaucoma. The most common form, Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG), begins without any symptoms or obvious loss of vision. With early detection, diagnosis & treatment, in the vast majority of cases, glaucoma vision loss can be controlled or prevented. It is critical to diagnose and treat glaucoma as early as possible through regular eye exams to prevent vision loss.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
There are many known health, ethnic, lifestyle, and demographic factors that influence your risk of developing glaucoma, including:
- High Intraocular Pressure – Regardless of age anyone with high IOP is at risk.
- Age – Risk increases after the age of 40 and is 6 times greater if you are over 60.
- Race – African-Americans have a six- to eight-fold increased risk for glaucoma.
- Myopia – Severely nearsighted people have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
- Hypertension or High Blood Pressure
- Family History – Any family history of glaucoma is considered a very significant risk factor, especially among siblings.
- Steroids – Taking steroid medication for allergies, asthma, or arthritis.
- Early Menopause
- Sleep Apnea
- Thin Corneal Tissue
- Eye Trauma
Please be sure to tell us if you have one or more of these glaucoma risk factors when you come to Silver Spring Eye for your eye exam.
Types of Glaucoma
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) and Angle Closure Glaucoma are the two most common types of glaucoma we see at Silver Spring Eye.
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type of glaucoma whereby the production and/or drainage of fluid inside the front of the eye, called aqueous humor, is imbalanced, resulting in an elevation in eye pressure (IOP). This pressure deprives the optic nerve of oxygen and nutrients causing irreversible changes and damage, which if left untreated results in vision loss and ultimately blindness.
Angle Closure Glaucoma accounts for about 10% of all cases of glaucoma and about 2/3 of these produce no symptoms for patients.
Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma is one of the only types of glaucoma that produces distinct symptoms that include pain, light sensitivity, redness, blurred vision, colored haloes around lights, and nausea or vomiting. Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma is considered a medical emergency. If you experience a sudden onset of pain, redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, haloes around lights, nausea and vomiting, please call Silver Spring Eye and relay these symptoms to the staff member so that you can be given an appointment immediately. If you are at risk for Angle Closure Glaucoma or if you have Acute Angle Closure Glaucoma, we may initially prescribe some medication to begin to lower the pressure but will also perform a type of in-office glaucoma laser procedure called Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (LPI) to produce a small opening or hole in the Iris so that Aqueous Humor can drain from the eye more effectively. Fortunately, these treatments are very effective at quickly lowering pressure and preserving vision.