Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, and is actually the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world. If you’re wondering why, the reason is simple: early stages of glaucoma are asymptomatic. Initially, patients with a detectable level of glaucoma will not have a single symptom. Also, the symptoms that do present themselves can go unnoticed, because with glaucoma the first part of vision lost is the peripheral vision.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve. As fluid builds up within the eye, the increased pressure will, over time, damage the optic nerve. Left untreated, glaucoma will cause permanent, irreversible blindness.
The good news is that glaucoma can be managed well with early detection and treatment. A regimen of eye drops, laser treatment, or surgery can prevent glaucoma from causing the damage that gives glaucoma its nickname, “The Silent Thief of Sight.”
There are a number of important risk factors for glaucoma. Glaucoma is largely an age-related disease, so we advice anyone over 50 to have a yearly screening for glaucoma. Glaucoma may be passed by heredity, so we advice patients with a family history to have screenings starting at a younger age.