August is Glaucoma Awareness
Ever hear those commercials that say ask your doctor before taking this medicine if you have certain types of glaucoma (among a long list of other things)? Narrow angles predispose someone to potential problems with pupil dilation or certain non-eye drop medicines than can cause eye pressure to rise significantly. (continue below)
Glaucoma is more common than we think, and most commonly causes silent vision damage over time if untreated. Vision loss from glaucomas is caused by nerve cell death and therefore becomes irreversible even leading to total blindness. Although there isn’t a cure, the great majority of common glaucoma conditions can be treated and complete blindness prevented. It is important to be evaluated by an experienced eye physician with a thorough eye exam and a few easy tests can help determine if someone has it. Some risk factors include age over 45 years, high nearsightedness (myopia), high eye pressure, race, family history of glaucoma, eye trauma, certain eye surgeries and congenital conditions. Treatments range from eye drops to laser treatments to invasive eye surgery in an effort to lower the eye pressure and preserve vision.
One particularly dangerous form of glaucoma is called angle closure glaucoma. This type is worrisome because it can occur acutely, without much of a warning, and be devastating even within a few hours. The drainage angle for the fluid in the eye can close causing pressure to build quickly and cause blurred vision (leading to permanent vision loss), redness, pain, and even nausea and vomiting. Because this type can be precipitated by dilating drops or certain medications, you may hear warnings in commercials or read about it on label inserts.
If you have risk factors, or you or someone you know hasn’t had a eye exam recently, be sure to get checked.