The aging process impacts your eyes just like every other part of your body, and there are a number of age-related eye diseases, such as glaucoma, that you may develop as you enter your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond.
Glaucoma is actually a group of conditions which cause damage to your optic nerve and if untreated, may lead to vision loss. It is generally caused by increased pressure inside your eye (intraocular pressure). Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. In most cases, the vision loss you experience is so gradual that it will not impact your ability to see clearly until your glaucoma has reached an advanced stage.
Fortunately, the vision loss associated with glaucoma is preventable with early treatment. Due to the gradual development of symptoms, it is important to go for a comprehensive eye exam that includes a glaucoma screening every year or two after the age of 40.
Learn more about Glaucoma Risk Factors
Types of Glaucoma
There are several different types of glaucoma. Most of them are caused by a buildup of fluid pressure in your eye, generally due to an inability of these eye fluids to exit the eye through their proper drainage channels. Eventually, this increased intraocular pressure will damage your optic nerve, leading to vision loss.
The most common types of glaucoma are:
Primary open angle glaucoma – This is the most common form of glaucoma. It occurs when the eye’s drainage channel becomes clogged over time, preventing fluid from escaping.
Angle closure glaucoma – Also called acute angle glaucoma, this type of glaucoma occurs when the drainage channel becomes blocked by the iris, preventing fluid from being able to leave the eye. This results in a sudden, rapid buildup of intraocular pressure and generally requires immediate medical treatment.
Secondary glaucoma – This type of glaucoma develops as a complication of another medical condition or injury such as an eye inflammation, eye injury, cataracts, or diabetes.
Pediatric glaucoma – This type of glaucoma affects children and generally occurs when a child is born with defects in their drainage channel that prevent fluid from exiting properly. Approximately 1 out of every 10,000 babies are born with pediatric glaucoma.
Normal tension glaucoma – This type of glaucoma develops without an increase in intraocular pressure.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
In most cases, you will not notice any symptoms until your glaucoma has advanced to a stage where you are experiencing vision loss. Generally, the first signs you may notice are small blind spots in your peripheral vision. Unfortunately, once you begin to notice these blind spots, significant damage to the optic nerve has usually occurred. For this reason, it is important to go for an eye exam every couple of years once you reach the age of 40.
Because of the sudden buildup of intraocular pressure associated with angle closure glaucoma, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
Blurred or narrowed field of vision
Halos around lights
Consult one of our ophthalmologists immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. Angle closure glaucoma is considered a medical emergency, and prompt medical attention is necessary in order to prevent blindness.
Please contact Eye Care Specialists today to schedule your glaucoma screening. We serve patients in Scranton, Wilkes Barre, Kingston, and throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.