Do You Know the Risk Factors For Developing Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a common cause of irreversible vision loss in the United States. The Glaucoma Research Foundation reports that 3 million American adults have glaucoma, with a 58% projected increase in cases by 2030.

At Accent Vision Specialists in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we’re happy to join the nationwide effort to increase awareness about glaucoma every January, which is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. However, our team of eye care experts is interested in protecting your vision from the damaging effects of glaucoma year-round.

Early diagnosis and treatment through comprehensive eye exams can slow the progression of glaucoma and even prevent further vision loss.  

Glaucoma basics

There are several types of glaucoma. Most are linked to increased pressure in the inner eye and optic nerve damage. Your intraocular (inner eye) pressure is related to the amount of fluid — called aqueous humor — that flows inside your eye.

Normally, a type of natural drainage system within your eyes — called the trabecular meshwork — allows excess fluid to drain from each eye where the cornea and iris meet. If you produce too much fluid or your drainage system is blocked, the fluid builds up and increases intraocular pressure.

Your optic nerve transmits signals to your brain that enable it to translate what you see into recognizable images. As the elevated intraocular pressure causes damage to the nerve and disrupts those signals, you’re left with glaucoma, which causes dark spots in your vision that can progress to total vision loss.

There is one type of glaucoma, normal-tension glaucoma, that isn’t related to increased pressure. It’s believed that this type is caused by restrictions in blood flow from other mechanisms.

Whichever type of glaucoma you have, the symptoms are typically very subtle during its early stages. In fact, you may lose up to 40% of your vision before you recognize a problem.

Who is at risk for developing glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but there are certain factors that increase your risk, including:

Glaucoma is also linked to medical conditions such as:

In addition, glaucoma is more prevalent in black, Hispanic, and Asian individuals. 

Can I prevent vision loss from glaucoma?

We cannot restore vision that’s been lost to glaucoma, but routine comprehensive/dilated eye exams can identify even subtle changes associated with this disease. Catching the condition early in its course is key to preventing further vision loss through treatments that may include medicated drops or oral medication, laser procedures, or surgery.

At Accent Vision Specialists, we also encourage our patients to carefully manage any medical conditions that may be linked to glaucoma, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Taking your medications as directed, following your diet, and developing healthy habits can improve both your overall health and your eye health. Routine exercise, for instance, can help decrease intraocular pressure.

For a comprehensive eye exam that includes testing to help identify glaucoma at its earliest stages, call Accent Vision Specialists today to make your appointment.

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