Can Glaucoma Be Stopped?

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Can Glaucoma Be Stopped?

January 8, 2019

With more than 200,000 US cases a year reported, glaucoma eye disease is common and also the leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old. While glaucoma can not be stopped, blindness from glaucoma can often be prevented with early treatment. Dr. Shofner has joined the National Eye Institute and the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) to encourage people at higher risk for glaucoma to make a resolution for healthy vision this new year.


Who’s at Risk?

Anyone can get glaucoma, but those at higher risk include:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos
  • People with a family history of the disease


What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye's optic nerve. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the eye. That extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, damaging the optic nerve.  

There are two major types of glaucoma: 

  1. Primary open-angle. This is the most common type of glaucoma. It happens gradually, where the eye does not drain fluid as well as it should (like a clogged drain). As a result, eye pressure builds and starts to damage the optic nerve. There are typically no symptoms other than gradual peripheral (side) vision loss.
  2. Angle-closure glaucoma (also called“closed-angle glaucoma” or “narrow-angle glaucoma”). This is the rarer type of glaucoma which happens when someone’s iris is very close to the drainage angle in their eye. The iris can block the drainage angle. Think of it like a piece of paper sliding over a sink drain. When the drainage angle gets completely blocked, eye pressure rises very quickly. This is called an acute attack. It is a true eye emergency, and you should call your ophthalmologist right away or you might experience permanent vision loss.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), here are the signs of an acute angle-closure glaucoma attack:

  • Your vision is suddenly blurry
  • You have severe eye pain
  • You have a headache
  • You feel sick to your stomach (nausea)
  • You throw up (vomit)
  • You see rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights


Early Treatment is Necessary

Many people with angle-closure glaucoma develop it slowly. This is called chronic angle-closure glaucoma. There are no symptoms at first, so they don’t know they have it until the damage is severe or they have an attack. Angle-closure glaucoma can cause blindness if not treated right away.


Having regular eye exams can help your ophthalmologist find these changes early and treat conditions promptly before they cause irreversible vision loss. The AAO recommends regular eye exams by an ophthalmologist starting at age 40, and earlier if there is a family history of glaucoma. If you or a loved is experiencing any vision issues, it’s important to contact your local eye doctor or schedule an appointment online at Shofner Vision Center.

Can Glaucoma Be Stopped?

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