Information About Glaucoma

Glaucoma can slowly develop over time, causing damage to the optic nerve that carries information from the retina to the brain and stealing your sight without warning. If caught early, it can usually be controlled.

As the leading ophthalmology practice in Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery and Schuylkill counties, the board certified and fellowship-trained ophthalmologists at Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania have vast experience in all current glaucoma treatments and surgical procedures and have helped thousands of people minimize the irreversible effects of the disease.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that leads to the damage of the optic nerve. It is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. If diagnosed and treated early, however, vision loss can be minimized.

Elevated intraocular pressure is the primary risk factor for glaucoma, but it is not the only factor that determines who will develop the disease. High-risk groups include people over age 60, family members of people with glaucoma, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted.

There are several forms of glaucoma, including:

  • Open-Angle Glaucoma (the most common form of the disease)
  • Angle-Closure/Narrow Angle Glaucoma
  • Normal Tension Glaucoma
  • Pigmentary Glaucoma
  • Exfoliation Syndrome
  • Trauma-Related Glaucoma
  • Childhood (or Congenital) Glaucoma

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Open-angle glaucoma: There are usually no warning signs or symptoms for this form of glaucoma. It progresses slowly and may not cause vision loss for many years, although some individuals notice a gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision, usually in both eyes. It is important to have regular eye exams to detect any vision changes or damage.

Angle-closure glaucoma: This rarer form of glaucoma develops rapidly. An acute attack may involve only one eye, but the symptoms are noticeable and may worsen over a few hours. They include:

  • Sudden blurred or hazy vision
  • Pain in or behind the eyeball
  • Headache with nausea or vomiting
  • Visual disturbances with halos or rainbows around light

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room or at your ophthalmologist’s office. The above symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have glaucoma, but they are signs of a potentially serious problem.

Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, medications, laser surgery, traditional surgery or a combination of these methods. When medications do not achieve the desired results, or have intolerable side effects, your ophthalmologist may suggest surgery.

Other Facts About Glaucoma

  • Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, from babies to senior citizens. Glaucoma affects about one in 200 people under age 50. In individuals over the age of 80, this number jumps to one in 10.
  • More than 3 million Americans (and 60 million worldwide) are estimated to have glaucoma, but only half of them are aware of it.
  • Glaucoma is 15 times more likely to cause blindness in African Americans than in Caucasians.
  • People of Asian descent are more likely to suffer from closed-angle glaucoma, the rarer form of glaucoma.
  • Early detection and treatment for glaucoma can usually slow the progression of the disease.

A dilated eye exam is the best and most effective way to detect glaucoma. If you need more information about glaucoma treatment or surgery, get in touch with Eye Consultants of Pennsylvania for an evaluation. Our combination of thorough training, experience, and eye care innovation make us the perfect choice for your eye care.

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