Damaging The Vision Superhighway
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that typically results from an increase in ocular pressure. This pressure builds inside the eye, pushing outward and causing strain on other components. One of these components, the ocular nerve, sends information from the eye to the brain. As pathways are damaged, signals to the brain are lost, creating black spots in vision that can turn into blindness.
It’s not contagious, but anyone can get it
Glaucoma is no respecter of persons and can affect anyone without even the slightest warning. There is currently no cure, but catching the condition early on can help manage vision loss. That being said, individuals living a healthy lifestyle tend to be less likely to experience the disease. Conversely, there are risk factors that make the condition more apt to occur.
I’m done adulting for today
While able to be a burden at any age, glaucoma appears most often in adults. In most cases, the highest risk comes after the age of 60. However, African-Americans and those of Hispanic descent are much more likely to have glaucoma after the 40th birthday. The name early-onset glaucoma is assigned to individuals with the disease younger than that.
Age plays the most significant role in the formation of each but is not the only consideration for disease formation. Although not an exhaustive list, there are a series of other risk factors that can lead to open-angle glaucoma forming: Family history, diabetes, high blood pressure, thin corneas, eye injury or surgery, corticosteroid use, and extreme near or farsightedness.
Perhaps most noticeable is family history and the fact that even a healthy person can be a significant risk. There are likely some genes that increase the chances of the disease forming that scientists have yet to discover.
Kids are sadly not immune
Because family history is an important factor for glaucoma, children can also be at risk for the disease. Where years can pass before glaucoma is noticed in an adult, vision loss tends to happen faster in kids. Formation of the disease from genetics during childhood is known as juvenile open-angle glaucoma. There is also a likelihood of structural abnormalities in a child’s eye during birth or shortly thereafter. Such abnormalities can bring about the formation of glaucoma, which leads to blindness if untreated.
Keeping glaucoma at arm’s length
Glaucoma is currently an incurable disease, but measures can be put in place to keep the damage to a minimum. Anyone with any of the risk factors above should see an eye doctor on a regular basis to check for signs of the disease. If anything is detected, the healthcare specialist can do one of a few things to help keep vision at best.
An ophthalmologist can prescribe eye drops to keep eye pressure under control. Patients may be required to use these for a long time. However, even a single drop may be all that’s required to prevent any blindness from happening. When eye drops aren’t effective, a surgeon can perform a procedure to reduce pressure as well. Although usually a last resort, surgery can be an effective way to keep glaucoma from causing damage.