About 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. Because it causes few symptoms early on, you may not even know you have glaucoma until you start to experience vision problems.
Glaucoma is associated with risk factors or things that make you more likely to develop the condition, like most other eye issues. Knowing your risk factors can play an important role in ensuring you do all you can to prevent vision loss and get treatment as soon as possible.
As a top-ranked ophthalmology practice in Bellmore, Great Neck, and Huntington, New York, Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts offers regular glaucoma screening during every comprehensive eye exam and custom treatment plans to prevent vision loss. In this post, our team tells you what risk factors you need to know about so you can take steps to protect your vision.
Quick facts about glaucoma
Glaucoma affects your optic nerve, located at the back of your eye. Your optic nerve gathers information about the objects you’re seeing and transmits that data to your brain, where it’s interpreted as images. In glaucoma, the nerve is damaged, resulting in permanent vision loss.
Most glaucoma happens when the pressure inside your eye (intraocular pressure) increases, putting pressure on the delicate nerve. Less commonly, optic nerve damage happens even when intraocular pressures are normal.
There are different types of glaucoma. The most common type is called open-angle glaucoma, accounting for about 90% of glaucoma cases. Normal tension glaucoma occurs even with normal pressures. Acute-closure glaucoma happens when fluid suddenly builds up inside your eye, creating a medical emergency that can rapidly lead to blindness.
Be aware of these risk factors
While acute-closure glaucoma is often associated with an intense headache and eye pain, open-angle glaucoma and normal tension glaucoma rarely cause symptoms before vision loss occurs. Knowing your risk factors is important for any type of glaucoma, but it’s vital for types that don’t cause symptoms in their early stages.
While researchers don’t know for sure how glaucoma develops, they have identified the following factors associated with an increased risk of developing glaucoma:
- Age over 55 years
- Family history of glaucoma
- Thin corneas
- Extreme farsightedness or nearsightedness
- Diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and some other conditions
- Prior eye injury
- History of migraines
- Unusual eye structure, including narrow drainage channels
- Prior eye surgery
- Long-term use of corticosteroids, particularly corticosteroid eye drops
Glaucoma is also more common among certain ethnic groups, including those with Asian, black, or Hispanic heritage.
While there’s no cure for glaucoma, it can be treated. Many people respond well to eye drops or other medications to help lower the pressure inside their eyes. Other people need minor procedures to improve drainage in their eyes.
Our team recommends glaucoma treatment based on several factors, including the type of glaucoma you have, the stage of disease, any symptoms you have, and your medical history. Before prescribing any treatment, we perform a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your intraocular pressure, along with other exams to evaluate your eye structure.
Make your vision a priority
It’s easy to take good vision for granted, so it’s also easy to skip routine eye exams. But regular exams are the best way to spot glaucoma and other vision and eye problems early.
A glaucoma test is very quick, painless, and completely noninvasive. To schedule your eye exam and glaucoma screening, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Long Island Ophthalmic Concepts today.