Sacramento Optometrists Talk Glaucoma & Treatment
When you notice changes to your vision, it raises concerns about the possible causes of the alterations. Although certain changes are normal as you age, and your eyes alter throughout the aging process, it can also be a sign of more complicated problems. Glaucoma is an eye condition that contributes to permanent changes in your vision. If it is not treated, then the condition can lead to severe problems with your vision including the possibility of blindness.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a complicated eye disease that is usually caused by a build-up of pressure in your eyes. Although individuals with normal pressure levels can develop glaucoma, it is most common when pressure in the eyes exceeds 22 mm Hg. What makes this difficult is people are typically symptom free with mild to moderately elevated pressure yet they could be losing their vision and have not idea its happening. Moreover, people can have normal pressure and still develop it. Low blood pressure, severe migraine headaches, sleep apnea, Raynaud’s Disease and angina are examples of systemic conditions that increase the risk of glaucoma, especially normal pressure glaucoma.
While elevated pressure provides the first clear risk of a problem, it is not the only factor that contributes to the development of glaucoma. Our Sacramento optometrists, Dr. Holmberg and Dr. Patel of Arena Eye Care conclude that multiple factors can increase the risk of developing the eye condition, which include:
- Family history
- Genetic factors
- Certain medications
- Trauma to the eyes
In general, the risk of glaucoma developing increases with age. It is most common in adults after they turn 40 years old and it is more common in individuals with diabetes or a history of vision problems. It also occurs after trauma to the eyes or when individuals take certain medications. Since genetic factors contribute to the risk, it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk through lifestyle factors; however, it is possible to reduce the risk by discussing medication side effects with a doctor before taking the medication or by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Treatments for Glaucoma
In general, diagnosing and treating glaucoma as early on in the process as possible maximizes your ability to maintain great vision and the quality of life you are accustomed to. Having annual comprehensive eye exams greatly increases the probability of an early diagnosis. If one is considered a glaucoma suspect, there are a series of diagnostic tests that are done to determine if one has the disease as well as their risk for progression going forward. Once the diagnosis is made, ongoing treatment (typically eye drops) and testing further minimizes the risk to your vision. Unfortunately glaucoma tends to be a diagnosis that needs to be treated for the rest of one’s life.
We are Glaucoma Certified and have a vast array of state-of-the-art tools to properly evaluate anyone for glaucoma, as well as many other conditions. If treatment is necessary, we discuss all medical and surgical options before proceeding. We are also contracted with most health insurances available locally. If you have a comprehensive eye exam through your vision insurance but we are not contracted with your medical insurance, then we can consult with an in-network provider so you get the care you need.
Treating any eye condition requires appropriate steps and tools. When glaucoma threatens your vision and quality of life, it is important to entrust the care of someone who is qualified and caring. We strive to meet your needs at both ends. Contact us today to set up an appointment or to learn more about your specific condition. Remember, the first step to healthy eyes to getting an annual eye exam. Call us today!