Understanding Glaucoma

Elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP) and How It Can Impact Your Vision

Glaucoma and Intraocular Pressure (IOP)

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can, if left untreated, cause vision impairment and even blindness. Glaucoma is asymptomatic (meaning it occurs without noticeable symptoms appearing). It can often go undiagnosed without proper check-ups and can get worse over time.

Although the development of glaucoma is not completely understood, we do know that it damages the nerve fibers in the optic nerve and in the retina, limiting a person’s field of view and quality of vision.

Understanding Glaucoma - Diagram indicating inner-eye pressure.

Glaucoma Risk Factors and Diagnosis

Many people do not realize they have glaucoma until they’ve already experienced permanent vision loss.

What Should You Look For?

A major risk factor for developing glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure (IOP), which occurs when fluid in the eye – used to transport important nutrients to the lens and cornea – accumulates and cannot drain naturally.

Identifying Hidden Symptoms

Scheduling a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year with an eye care professional is crucial in finding out whether you have glaucoma, since people who are diagnosed with the disease often do not experience glaucoma symptoms.

Open-angle glaucoma has no obvious symptoms in its early stage. As the disease progresses, blind spots can begin to develop in the peripheral (side) view. These spots can go undetected until the optic nerve has experienced serious damage, or until it’s detected by an eye care specialist through a complete eye exam.

Similarly, people at risk for angle-closure glaucoma often do not experience symptoms before it occurs. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma may include:

• Severe pain in the eyes or forehead
• Redness of the eye
• Decreased vision or blurred vision
• Seeing rainbows or halos around lights
• Headache
• Nausea
• Vomiting

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Many risk factors exist for the development of glaucoma. Some of these include:

• Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP)
• Sudden considerable changes in intraocular pressure (IOP)
• Older age
• African American ethnicity
• Hispanic ethnicity
• Asian ethnicity
• Having a relative with glaucoma
• Decreased central corneal thickness
• Blunt eye trauma
• Inflammatory eye conditions

If you have one or more of the glaucoma risk factors listed and are over the age of 35, you should visit your eye care professional for a full glaucoma exam. Early detection and treatment of high intraocular pressure (IOP) is your best defense against glaucoma.

Diagnosing Glaucoma

Glaucoma can only be diagnosed during an eye examination, which is why it is important to schedule regular check-ups with your eye doctor. Get ready for your next visit with helpful information about what to expect and how to prepare for a discussion with your eye care professional.

Glaucoma Diagnosis

A glaucoma exam provides important information to you and your eye care professional regarding the health of your eyes. It is often part of a routine eye exam and is painless. During the exam, your eye care professional may run a series of tests:

Determines if there is any glaucoma damage, such as vision loss or blind spots in your field of vision.

Allows your eye care professional to see if your optic nerve appears healthy or damaged.

Measures intraocular pressure (IOP).

Quickly, painlessly measures the thickness of your cornea (the clear front “window” of your eye).

Enables your eye care professional to see the angle of the structure inside the eye where fluid outflow begins.

Preparing For Your Eye Exam

  • List any symptoms you’ve been having and include the length of time you have been experiencing each.
  • List any history you may have with eye problems, such as vision changes, other eye conditions you’ve been diagnosed with, and any eye discomfort. Also list any eye problems your relatives may have.
  • Write down your medical information, including other conditions such as diabetes or vascular issues you may have, and all medications and supplements you’re currently taking. Also write down any history of eye trauma.
  • Write down any questions you may have for your eye care professional so you remember them. This will also help you make the most of your appointment.

Hear from Others with Glaucoma

Understanding Glaucoma - Man and boy hiking together, smiling at each other.

Take a Closer Look at Glaucoma Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, you have options. Several treatments or procedures can help control your intraocular pressure (IOP). From prescription eye drops to Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery at the time of your cataract procedure, learn more about your glaucoma treatment options.

With new glaucoma treatment options, the future is bright.

Speak with an Expert

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