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Four questions you may have about glaucoma

Glaucoma is often discussed when you get an eye exam or in any conversations about a serious eye condition. But what is glaucoma exactly and what are the warning signs? And is there anything you can do to prevent it from happening or to treat it once you have the disease?

These are common questions and they need answers, especially since only half of the 3 million Americans ages 40 and older with glaucoma know they have it, according to the National Eye Institute.

Each of the questions above is answered below to help provide a more thorough understanding about glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that cause damage to the eye’s optic nerve, which can result in vision loss and blindness. Several studies have been conducted about the disease. According to The Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group, it is estimated that more than 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those people know they have it. Glaucoma is also the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

What are the warning signs?

In most cases, there are no warning signs of glaucoma. This is because the most common form of the disease, open-angle glaucoma, has virtually no symptoms. In addition, no pain is typically associated with the increased eye pressure caused by the disease. The only way to detect glaucoma is through a comprehensive eye exam. At Utah Eye Centers, you can get this exam to find out if you have glaucoma or any other eye diseases.

How does glaucoma happen?

The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, starts with a buildup of fluid that increases the pressure in one or both eyes. This buildup is caused by the slow clogging of the eye’s drainage canals. The pressure produced by this backup then damages the optic nerve, which is the nerve fibers that transfer visual images to your brain. Glaucoma first starts affecting your side vision and as it progresses, vision loss becomes more noticeable. This can then lead to tunnel vision, where you can only see straight ahead. If not controlled, glaucoma can lead to serious and even permanent vision loss.

How can you prevent and treat glaucoma?

If glaucoma is discovered in its early stages, your doctor can control pressure through medication or surgery and can delay the progression of the disease. This is why it is always important to have a comprehensive eye exam at least every one to two years to check for glaucoma or any other eye issues.

When was the last time you scheduled an eye exam? If it has been a while or you are simply not sure, call us at 801-476-0494 and we can answer your questions and set up an appointment with your doctor.

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