Common Misconceptions About Glaucoma
Glaucoma can affect you at any stage of life, causing severe damage to the optic nerve and eventual loss of vision if left untreated. This optic nerve damage is progressive but can be treated. Treatment is most successful if the condition is detected early. While glaucoma is the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S., there are many myths that persist about this condition.
Here are some common misconceptions about glaucoma, and what you need to know:
Misconception #1: There is only one type of glaucoma
There are actually many types of glaucoma. The two most common types of glaucoma are angle-closure and open-angle glaucoma. The “angle” is where the fluid drains from the eye to regulate the eye pressure. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common, accounting for over 80% of glaucoma cases. In this type, the angle is open, but less fluid drains through, causing pressure to build up inside the eye, which will eventually damage the optic nerve. With angle-closure glaucoma, the angle closes, preventing fluid from exiting the eye, causing the pressure in the eye to rise suddenly, affecting the health of the optic nerve. Both types of glaucoma can, unfortunately, lead to vision loss if left untreated.
Misconception #2: Glaucoma can only affect the elderly.
Although glaucoma is more common in people over 60 years of age, it can affect anyone at any stage of life. Babies can be born with this condition, eye trauma or injury can cause this condition, and certain diseases can also contribute as a risk factor for glaucoma, such as hypertension or diabetes. To decrease these risk factors, it’s important to schedule annual eye exams so that a doctor can let you know if you are at risk and what precautions you can take.
Misconception #3: Glaucoma only affects one eye.
Typically, glaucoma occurs in both eyes, but glaucoma is frequently an asymmetric disease, many one eye is typically more affected than the other. For many people, the peripheral vision is what this pressure affects first, so you may not immediately notice the change in your vision. But over time, your central vision will be affected by the condition as well. It’s important to speak to a doctor as soon as something seems off, or if any change in your vision occurs.
Misconception #4: Glaucoma has symptoms.
Actually, most forms of glaucoma are without symptoms until the disease is more advanced. But when symptoms do occur, they may not be continuous, and may tend to come and go or steadily worsen. You may start to notice blurry vision, eye pain, or see halos around lights. By the time these types of symptoms start to occur, you may have already lost part of your vision. Early detection through your annual eye exams is key to protecting your eyesight.
Misconception #5: Glaucoma can be cured.
Sadly, there is no cure for glaucoma. However, there are many effective treatment options that can help you manage the condition and prevent it from worsening. Some of these treatments can include eye drops, laser, or surgery. Consulting with a medical professional is the best way to determine which form of treatment is right for you.
To learn more about causes and misconceptions about glaucoma and effective methods of treatment, give us a call at the Mile High Eye Institute today. Our doctors are ready to help you get the eye care you deserve.