Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness. It is estimated that by 2020, 79.6 million people will be affected worldwide. Because there are no early warning signs, around 50% of people with glaucoma don’t even know they have it!
With that in mind, we thought we’d answer some of the top FAQs about glaucoma, and arm you with the information you need to guard against sight loss before it’s too late.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve in the eye. If left untreated, continued damage to this nerve can lead to visual field defects, visual impairment (e.g. foggy/cloudy vision), and blindness.
What causes glaucoma?
In the great majority of cases, glaucoma occurs in susceptible individuals. This form of glaucoma is called “primary glaucoma”. It occurs mainly due to a high level of intraocular pressure (IOP), leading to damage to the optic nerve. In other cases, IOP may be relatively normal, but glaucoma occurs anyway because of the inability of the eye to handle mechanical stress, known as “normal tension glaucoma”.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
The great majority of cases evolve silently, as patients may not notice vision loss until it is significant and present in both eyes. Lack of symptoms early on and the irreversible nature of the glaucoma make it one of the main causes of blindness worldwide. When the disease is at advanced stages, most patients will perceive visual abnormalities, such as blind spots or tunnel vision.
Can glaucoma be cured?
There is no known cure for glaucoma. However, it can be treated and optic nerve damage can be limited or even stopped. Early detection is important as it means access to swift and appropriate treatment and follow-up care, preserving vision in the long run.
Do I need an eye health screening?
Regular eye health screenings are recommended for the general population, but people at high risk of glaucoma in particular should get a complete eye exam, including eye dilation, every one or two years.
Who is at risk of glaucoma?
Anyone can be susceptible to glaucoma, no matter what your gender, race, or age. However, those at a particularly high risk include:
People over 45
Glaucoma is much more common among older people. You are 2-6 times more likely to get glaucoma if you are over 45-60 years old.
People with a family history of glaucoma
The most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, is hereditary. If members of your immediate family have glaucoma, you are at a much higher risk than the rest of the population. Family history increases the risk of glaucoma 4-9 times.
Asians and people of Asian descent
People of Asian descent appear to be at increased risk for angle-closure glaucoma. Angle-closure glaucoma accounts for less than 10% of all diagnosed cases of glaucoma.
Africans and people of African descent
People of African heritage have a higher prevalence of glaucoma than other ethnic populations. In the US, glaucoma occurs about five times more often in African Americans than in Caucasians, and on average manifests about 10 years earlier than in other ethnicities.
Some evidence links steroid use to glaucoma.
People who've suffered from an eye injury
Injury to the eye may cause secondary open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can occur immediately after the injury or years later. Blunt injuries that bruise the eye (blunt traumas) or injuries that penetrate the eye can damage the eye's drainage system, leading to traumatic glaucoma. The most common cause is sports-related injury.
Other risk factors
Other possible risk factors include:
high myopia (near-sightedness)
central corneal thickness less than 0.5 mm
How can Jiahui help?
Our eye clinics bring together experienced ophthalmologists, optometrists and state-of-the-art eye equipment to offer a comprehensive adult eye health screening package. If abnormal findings indicate you may have glaucoma, a detailed glaucoma screening will be performed to confirm or exclude the diagnosis.
Package prices not applicable to insurance payments.
Jiahui Health reserves the right of price interpretation and adjustment.
To schedule your appointment or for more information, please call 400-868-3000.