Glaucoma is a collection of diseases of the eye which slowly destroy the nerve at the back of one or both eyes. In most cases it is caused by a pressure build-up due to a blockage of circulation of the aqueous fluid, or issues related to the lack of proper drainage. It can also be caused by a reduced blood supply to your eye.
Glaucoma is the world’s second largest cause of blindness in the world. More than four million Americans have glaucoma and don’t even realize it, because the early symptoms can go unnoticed. It has the nickname of the “silent thief of sight.”
The risk factors for glaucoma include:
- Your race. (It is more common in Africans, Irish, Asian, Russian, Inuit and Scandinavian people.)
- Genetic factors.
- Being nearsighted.
- Having other eye problems.
- Serious trauma to the eye.
- Taking steroids for rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
- High blood pressure.
Symptoms of glaucoma can include:
- Eye pain.
- Blurry vision.
- Red eyes.
- A halo effect around lights.
- Sensitivity to light.
The good news is that there are several easy things that you can do to prevent glaucoma from developing. First of all, make sure to have your eyes tested every 3 to 5 years once you hit 40, and yearly if you are over 60 years old. In fact, if you suffer from one or more medical conditions from the risk factors list above, it might be wise to have more frequent checks. There are specific eye drops and oral medication that will help reduce the eye pressure. Talk to your doctor about the help you need.
A healthy diet can help care for your eyes as well. Although it can’t directly prevent glaucoma, a healthy diet will improve your general health, as well as help you control your weight and eye pressure. If you have diabetes, you should make sure that your sugar levels are always under control, because resistance to insulin, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are also connected to high levels of eye pressure.
If you exercise regularly you will be able to control your diabetes and insulin levels, and that will also help reduce your eye pressure. A good mixture of different exercises will improve your overall health and help keep your eye pressure down.
Protect your eyes. If you use power tools, you must wear protective goggles. The same rule applies if you play racquet sports such as squash on indoors courts, because getting hit in the eye with a ball can cause serious damage. Wear sunglasses and a hat when you are outside, to protect your eyes from the sun and glare. This is especially important when driving.
The main treatment for glaucoma is surgery. It is a short procedure with a very high success rate. Sometimes you will have to use eye drops for the rest of your life, in order to control the pressure in the eye.
Losing sight in one eye isn’t good, because it can affect your life in ways that you couldn’t even imagine. If you went blind in both eyes due to glaucoma, your whole life would have to radically change. Contact your doctor today and take the needed steps to ensure it won’t happen to you, and you will enjoy a healthy, long life.