The Aging Process Impacts Your Eyes
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
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.
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
- Eye pain
- 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.
- Age. Glaucoma is closely associated with aging eyes. As you enter middle age you should make it a point to see your eye doctor regularly.
- A family history of glaucoma
- Race and ethnicity. African-Americans over the age of 40 have a much higher risk of developing glaucoma than Caucasians. Patients of Asian descent are also at greater risk of facing glaucoma.
- Elevated pressure in the eye.
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Long-term corticosteroid use
- Past eye injury
- Thin corneas
If you know that you have one of these conditions, you should make a concerted effort to come to our offices for regular glaucoma checks. As part of a normal eye exam our doctors can check for glaucoma.
While you can’t do anything about your age, race or family history, there are steps you can take to address or even prevent diabetes, high-blood pressure and heart disease. By doing so you’ll reduce your risk of developing glaucoma.
Should you develop this condition, our doctors have the skill and experience to help you deal with it. We offer a range of glaucoma treatments. While glaucoma can’t be cured, it can be treated and controlled and your life with glaucoma made better and more comfortable.
- Eye drops — Eye drops are often the first treatment option used for patients with open angle glaucoma. They are used to reduce elevated intraocular pressure by either reducing the amount of fluid produced by your eye or helping the fluid drain from your eye.
- Laser surgery — Laser surgery may be performed to improve the drainage of fluid from your eye. Common types of laser surgery used in the treatment of glaucoma include trabeculoplasty which uses a laser to open clogged drainage canals and help fluid drain from your eye, iridotomy which uses a laser to make a small hole in the iris (the colored part of your eye) in order to allow fluid to flow more freely, and cyclophotocoagulation which uses a laser to treat targeted areas in the middle layer of your eye in order to reduce the production of fluid.
- Microsurgery — If eye drops and laser surgery are not successful in lowering your intraocular pressure, a procedure called a trabeculectomy may be performed to create an artificial drainage channel to allow fluid to more easily leave your eye.
Since these treatments do not cure glaucoma (they only control the level of your intraocular pressure), it is important to follow up with our ophthalmologists to make sure your intraocular pressure does not become elevated again in the future.
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- How advanced your condition has become
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, and therapies
- Expectations for the course of the disease