Top 10 Questions About Glaucoma Eye Disease by Renowned Eye Surgeon, Dr. Stewart Shofner
As we wrap up National Glaucoma Month, Dr. Stewart Shofner of Shofner Vision Center in Nashville, TN continues supporting the initiative by offering top ten questions about this "sight stealing" eye disease. "Finding out you have glaucoma is not an end to vision. In fact, the sooner we find out, the more options we have," says Dr. Shofner.
1. Who's at most risk of developing glaucoma?
- over age 40
- have family members with glaucoma
- are of African or Hispanic heritage
- are of Asian heritage
- have high eye pressure
- are farsighted or nearsighted
- have had an eye injury
- have corneas that are thin in the center
- have diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation or other health problems
2. Can someone at any age develop glaucoma? Yes. Typically those over the age of 40 are highest at risk for developing glaucoma. Although rare, "congenital glaucoma" develops in infants and young children.
3. Does one have to have poor vision to develop glaucoma? No. Those with perfect vision can still develop this eye disease.
4. Can I have glaucoma without any symptoms? Yes, some don't experience any symptoms or discomfort, only an eye exam can diagnose this eye disease.
5. Can glaucoma cause blindness? Yes, it is the second leading cause of blindness in the US. Early detection and treatment minimizes the risk of permanent vision loss.
6. Is glaucoma hereditary? In most cases glaucoma is not inherited. However, family history of some forms of glaucoma can increase one's risk of developing glaucoma and researchers are actively investigating the genes responsible. Congenital glaucoma is an exception.
7. Will high blood pressure cause glaucoma? Controlling blood pressure does not mean intraocular pressure (IOP) is controlled. While high blood pressure can be associated with elevated IOP, low blood pressure is strongly associated with some types of glaucoma, for example, normal-tension glaucoma.
8. Will medical marijuana heal glaucoma? Industry experts haven't found any scientific evidence that demonstrates an increased benefit of marijuana treatment compared with the wide variety of pharmaceutical options now available.
9. Can eye drops eliminate glaucoma? No, there isn't a quick fix or cure. Glaucoma is a chronic condition that needs ongoing treatment with use of eye drops or surgery. "We've seen an increase in patient awareness of glaucoma over the past few years. Although patients are becoming more aware of the disease, they are not always aware of the available treatments. Taking drops every day is not the only option; laser treatment and iStents are also great ways to manage the disease, and often covered by medical insurance," says Dr. Shofner.
10. Can certain activities worsen glaucoma symptoms? People at risk for closed-angle glaucoma should avoid over-the-counter decongestants and other medications where the packaging states not to use these products if you have glaucoma. These products are usually safe to use once your narrow angle has been treated with laser iridotomy. Always ask your ophthalmologist if it is safe for you to use products with this warning.
It is estimated that three million Americans have glaucoma, but only about half of them know that they have glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders leading to progressive damage to the optic nerve, and is characterized by loss of nerve tissue resulting in loss of vision. The optic nerve is a bundle of about one million individual nerve fibers and transmits the visual signals from the eye to the brain.
Types of Glaucoma
The most common form of glaucoma is "primary open-angle" glaucoma is associated with an increase in the fluid pressure inside the eye. This increase in pressure also known as intraocular pressure (IOP) may cause progressive damage to the optic nerve and loss of nerve fibers. Two-thirds of those with closed-angle glaucoma develop it slowly without any symptoms prior to an attack.
Normal tension glaucoma, also known as "low tension" produces an eye pressure consistently below 21 mmHg, but optic nerve damage and visual field loss still occur.
Congenital glaucoma is rare type that develops in infants and young children. It can be hereditary, and it happens when the eye's drainage system doesn't develop fully or correctly before birth.
Additionally, Secondary glaucoma can often be caused by another eye condition or disease. Causes of secondary glaucoma may include: eye injury, eye inflammation, abnormal blood vessel formation from diabetes or retinal blood vessel blockage, use of steroid-containing medications, or eye tumor.
About Shofner Vision Center
Dr. Stewart Shofner at Shofner Vision Center in Nashville, TN specializes in cataract vision correction, LASIK vision correction surgery, and comprehensive eye exams to diagnosis and treat glaucoma and other eye diseases. Shofner's professional staff members pay close attention to details to ensure every patient is given the best experience at Shofner Vision Center.
Accepting new patients, Shofner accepts most insurance plans including Medicaid and Tri-Care. Finding out you have glaucoma is not an end to vision. Contact Shofner Vision Center to schedule a comprehensive eye exam at (615) 340-4733 or online today.