Seeing Your Optometrist at Least Once a Year for a Glaucoma Exam Can Save Your Sight
One of the most important aspects of eye care is regular screening for glaucoma. Primary, open-angle glaucoma can cause no symptoms at all until it suddenly takes your sight, often in three years or less from the first time it causes noticeable vision loss. Here are three things our eye doctor at Legacy Eye Care in Petersburg, Chester, South Hill, and Colonial Heights wants you to know about glaucoma.
By the Time Glaucoma Presents Symptoms, It Is Already Advanced
People who have the more common open-angle form of glaucoma don't know it at first unless they get regular checkups (at least once a year after the age of 40) with their optometrist. The initial symptoms of untreated glaucoma include:
- Eye pain.
- Red eyes.
- Difficulty adjusting to either bright light or darkness.
- Seeing halos around lights at night.
If untreated, these symptoms progress to:
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes.
- Tunnel vision.
There is also a kind of glaucoma called closed-angle or acute glaucoma. This kind of glaucoma is a medical emergency. It causes extreme eye pain, usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting. It can cause blindness in just hours.
Some People Are at Greater Risk of Glaucoma than Others
Scientists estimate that between 3 and 6 million people in the United States have glaucoma. Most of them are over 40. About 1.6 million people have significant loss of vision from glaucoma. As many as 116,000 people are blind in both eyes because of the disease.
People who have a history of glaucoma in their families have a greater risk of getting the disease themselves. The condition is more common, comes on earlier in life, and progresses more quickly in people who have African ancestry. It's also more common in people whose medical history includes:
- Any kind of eye surgery, including cataract surgery.
- Any kind of head trauma.
- Sleep apnea.
Our Eye Doctor Has a Series of Tests for Glaucoma
Every time you have an eye exam, our optometrist checks your eye pressure. We will also give you an automated exam to test your peripheral vision. We also do a painless test called pachymetry to get a baseline measure of the thickness of your cornea. These tests take about 15 or 20 minutes, but they do not hurt.
It's important to repeat them at least once a year, or more often if you have any of the risk factors for glaucoma.