When I first started researching this topic I was surprised to see that one of the first options that popped up on Google when I typed in “glaucoma” was “glaucoma jokes.” I was intrigued so I clicked on it and have to admit, the joke made me laugh. It’s probably not the most appropriate joke ever but if you’re interested, check out the first image that comes up on Google Images when you search for “glaucoma jokes.”
All joking aside, glaucoma is a serious eye condition that can worsen overtime. It’s associated with increased pressure inside the eye. The condition often does not occur until later in life so it’s important to get regular eye exams. If the pressure in your eye continues to increase you can eventually have permanent damage to your optic nerve which can cause blindness or significant vision loss.
An Increase in Pressure
Glaucoma occurs when the pressure in your eye increases due to problems with fluid circulation in your eye. The fluid in your eye is called aqueous humor and it usually flows through the eye with no problems. However, when the fluid is unable to circulate it builds up, increasing pressure. This pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve which is responsible for your vision. If your optic nerve is damaged you may experience permanent vision loss. Untreated glaucoma can even cause blindness. In addition to increased pressure, glaucoma can also be caused by blunt trauma or injury to the eye. This is much less common and does not occur nearly as frequently.
Glaucoma is a tricky condition because there are often little to no symptoms of the disease. A loss of peripheral vision is usually the first noticeable symptom but often isn’t noticed until the disease has progressed.
Know Your Risk
Glaucoma is more common in older adults and rarely occurs in those under the age of 40. Glaucoma is also more prevalent in African-Americans and there are a variety of factors that can increase your risk of glaucoma including:
- Being a diabetic
- Taking steroid medications like prednisone
- Having African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit or Scandinavian descent
- Poor vision
- A family history of glaucoma
The Importance of Eye Exams
The best way to lower your risk of a serious case of glaucoma is to get a regular eye exam. Eye exams can diagnose glaucoma and can catch it in an earlier stage. If you’ve ever been to the eye doctor you’ve probably experienced the lovely and oh-so-fun (note the sarcasm) air-puff test. In the scientific community this is called the non-contact tonometry test. If you’ve never had this done before here’s how it works.
You usually sit down and rest your chin on a strap connected to a tonometry machine for this test. A puff of air is then shot at your eye (it doesn’t hurt but will probably make you jump every single time). The puff of air flattens your cornea and measures the resistance of your cornea to this pressure. If the test indicates that your intraocular pressure (IOP) is increased it may mean you have a greater risk of glaucoma.
What to do After a Glaucoma Diagnosis
Glaucoma can be treated a few different ways depending on the type of glaucoma and the severity of the disease.
- Eye drops are one option for glaucoma treatment. They help regulate the fluid in front of the eye to maintain a healthy IOP.
- Laser surgery is another option. This surgery also works to help regulate fluid formation around the eye to maintain healthy pressure.
- Microsurgery is also used to treat glaucoma. A procedure called a trabeculectomy is done and a channel to drain the fluid in the eye is created.
There is no cure for glaucoma and no single way to prevent the disease from happening. The good news is that with regular eye exams and early detection it can be controlled and treated regularly with minimal vision loss or damage. There can be side effects to glaucoma treatments which can include redness, dryness and irritated eyes. We have a few products that can help!
If you’re looking to support your glaucoma treatment or your overall eye health naturally try any of these products!
For more information on glaucoma check out this short video!