Whether you love to read, watch your children play, go for a drive, or simply walk around the block, vision plays a vital role in how you experience the world. That makes glaucoma scary. This sight-stealing condition can develop so slowly that you don’t even realize you’re experiencing changes to your vision until the damage is done. Exploring options for how to treat glaucoma can bring some peace of mind.
How to Treat Glaucoma
Discovering exactly what glaucoma is can be the first step in understanding this condition. Armed with that information, you’re ready to explore how to treat glaucoma. Fortunately, working with an eye doctor is an excellent way to protect your eye health.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness. In fact, it’s the second-leading cause of blindness after cataracts, according to Cleveland Clinic. The harm is generally caused by fluid buildup, which leads to increased pressure inside the eye. This increased pressure damages the optic nerve. Without treatment, this can slowly steal the vision. Damage that’s been done cannot be reversed, and many people won’t experience symptoms because the process happens so slowly that they don’t notice any changes.
Regular eye exams are essential when you’re concerned about glaucoma. While damage cannot be reversed, it can be prevented or slowed. If you develop glaucoma, an eye doctor should be able to notice signs of trouble during a dilated eye exam.
How Is Glaucoma Treated?
If you’re diagnosed with glaucoma, it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible. While it won’t undo the damage that’s been done, it can help you maintain your vision. As the National Eye Institute explains, eye doctors have a few different possibilities when it comes to treatment:
- Medicines: Eye drops may be prescribed to lower the pressure in your eyes. In some cases, you may be given an oral medication that can assist in drainage or reduce the amount of fluid created in the eye.
- Laser treatment: Doctors can use lasers to drain fluid from the eye. The procedure can normally be performed right in your eye doctor’s office.
- Surgery: When medications and laser treatments fail, surgeries offer another way to reduce the pressure in the eye.
Who Is at Risk for Glaucoma?
Should you be worried about glaucoma? As the American Academy of Ophthalmology points out, the condition has no symptoms in its early stages, so half of the people who have it are completely unaware of it. As a result, they’re missing out on the chance to halt the damaging effects of the disease. Having regular eye exams is clearly important. Being aware of your risk also helps. According to the AAO, you might be at a higher risk of developing glaucoma if you meet certain conditions:
- You are over age 40.
- You are of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent.
- You have a family history of glaucoma.
- You have been using steroid medications for a long time.
- You have migraines, diabetes, high blood pressure, or other health conditions that are known to raise your risk.
- You’re either near-sighted or far-sighted.
- You’ve had an eye injury.
- You have high eye pressure.
- You have thin corneas.
- You have a thinning optic nerve.
How Can I Protect Myself from Glaucoma?
There’s no sure way to prevent glaucoma. That means early detection is the best way to protect yourself. All adults should schedule an annual eye exam that includes a screening for glaucoma. Follow your eye doctor’s instructions regarding any medications or appointments. Protect your eyes with protective eyewear when playing sports, spending time in the sun, or working with tools. Finally, follow a healthy lifestyle with exercise and nutritious meals.