Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions often caused by abnormally high pressure in the eye which damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is key for turning light in the eye into images in the brain. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in patients over the age of 60 and is more common in older adults. There may be no warning signs for glaucoma as the effects are gradual. Because of this, a patient may not notice vision changes until it reaches an advanced stage.
Vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be recovered, so regular eye exams, which include eye pressure measurements, are important in older adults in order to catch and treat glaucoma early. Generally, patients with glaucoma require treatment for the rest of their life to slow or prevent blindness.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
There are several types of glaucoma, and specific symptoms depend on the type. Some examples of common symptoms include:
· Patchy spots in peripheral vision
· Tunnel vision in advanced stages
Acute angle-closure glaucoma
· Severe headaches
· Eye pain
· Blurred vision
· Halos around light
· Eye redness
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a medical emergency. Contact an eye doctor immediately if experiencing symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma.
Treatment will depend on the patient and the type of glaucoma. Generally, glaucoma can be treated with eye drops, oral medication, or several types of surgery or laser therapy.
If left untreated, glaucoma will cause blindness. Even with treatment, about 15% of patients with glaucoma will become blind in at least one eye within 20 years of being diagnosed. Vision loss can be slowed or prevented if glaucoma is caught early and a treatment plan is developed immediately.
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