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Glaucoma

It is very frequent and there are a lot affected persons, in fact 2% of the populations over 40 years old has glaucoma. There are many forms of glaucoma.

This article deals with the most common form, called open angle glaucoma. You can protect yourself from blindness caused by glaucoma if you:

1. Find out if you are at risk for glaucoma
2. Visit your eye doctor regularly

Am I at risk for glaucoma?

You are more likely to get glaucoma if you:

• are 55 or older
• are black (if so, you are also more likely to get glaucoma at a younger age)
• are Hispanic
• are very nearsighted (myopic-distant objects are very blurry).
• have a family history of glaucoma or a close relative with glaucoma
• have a history of high pressure in your eyes

Sometimes the fluid doesn't drain properly. It backs up, causing too much pressure nerve, causing loss
increased eye pressure. May damage the optic of sight over time.

At first, glaucoma damages side vision (peripheral vision). Over time, glaucoma may also damage straight-ahead (central) vision and result in blindness. Sight is lost slowly over many years. Glaucoma usually does not cause pain, so you may not notice it until you have lost a great deal of your vision. Have had an eye injury or eye surgery have taken steroids for long periods of time have diabetes or high blood pressure Even people who do not have these risk factors can get glaucoma.

How does glaucoma damage my eyes?

Glaucoma causes loss of sight by damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. The optic nerve sends information from your eyes to your brain.

Pressure inside the eye may play a role in glaucoma.

Your eye produces a watery fluid (aqueous humor), which goes into the eye and drains out.

Sometimes the fluid doesn’t drain properly. It backs up, causing increased eye pressure. Too much pressure may damage the optic nerve, causing loss of sight over time.

At first, glaucoma damages side vision (peripheral vision). Over time, glaucoma may also damage straight-ahead (central) vision and result in blindness. Sight is lost slowly aver many years. Glaucoma usually does not cause pain, so you may not notice it until you have last a great deal of your vision.

What can I do to prevent blindness from glaucoma?

Visit your eye doctor regularly.

If you are 55 or older, you should get a complete eye exam at least once every two years. If you have diabetes or other health problems, you may need to see an eye doctor more often.

When you have a complete eye exam, the eye doctor will check your eye pressure, check your side vision and do an optic 'nerve evaluation. The best way to evaluate the optic nerve is with a dilated eye exam.

During a dilated eye exam, the eye doctor widens the pupil of the eye with eye drops to allow a closer look at the inside of the eye. The exam is not painful, and it may not always be part of an eye exam for a new pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses. A dilated eye exam will allow your eye doctor to check for glaucoma and other eye diseases.

Things to remember

1. Tell your eye doctor about any eye problems you may have noticed.
2. Tell your eye doctor about any risk factors for glaucoma you may have (see page 2).
3. Be sure to have a complete eye exam, which includes dilation.
4. Tell your doctor what medicines you are taking.

Can I tell if I have glaucoma?

People usually don't notice that they have glaucoma unless they have a great deal of damage to their optic nerve. Remember, even without any warning signs you may still have glaucoma, so it is important to get a complete eye exam.

How will an eye doctor treat my glaucoma?

An eye doctor will treat most people with eye drops to lower eye pressure. If eye drops don't work, your doctor may recommend laser or glaucoma surgery.

Protect your sight!

If you have questions about glaucoma or would like to know more, call Prevent Blindness America at 1-800-331-2020 or visit this website, www.preventblindness.org.

Glaucoma treatment is successful if started early. Remember, your eye doctor can check for glaucoma during a complete eye exam. Doctors may also test your side vision and eye pressure, but testing eye pressure alone is not a good way to find glaucoma.

Visit your eye doctor regularly and talk to your eye doctor about any risk factors you have. If you are 55 or older, you should have a complete eye exam every other year.

Commonly asked questions about Glaucoma

There is definitely an increased familial incidence of the two types of glaucoma that have been discussed. Someone who has a parent, brother, or sister with one of these types of glaucoma will have about a one in ten chance of developing the condition. There are other secondary types of glaucoma that may or may not be hereditary.

Are eye pressure and blood pressure the same thing?

No. Some people have high blood pressure but normal eye pressure, and vice versa. However, some (but not all) of the drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure also lower the intraocular pressure.

Should glaucoma patients stop drinking coffee?

Glaucoma patients who drink a lot of any clear fluid, whether water or black coffee, can experience a temporary increase in their intraocular pressure. Therefore, glaucoma patients should not drink a lot of fluids at one time. Our study of glaucoma patients who drink two cups of regular coffee a day showed that coffee has no greater effect on glaucoma than other beverages.
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