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Glaucoma Q & A

A severe case of glaucoma can lead to blindness, making a comprehensive eye exam necessary for early diagnosis.

Dr. Mary Espy is an extensively-trained general and medical optometrist, more than qualified to detect and treat this detrimental condition. Contact Dr. Mary Espy in Flint, Michigan, by calling or requesting an appointment online to receive a holistic approach to glaucoma treatment.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve and can be severely detrimental to your vision.

It’s caused by abnormal pressure in your eye and is a leading cause of blindness. There are no early symptoms, making its onset unexpected and that much more dangerous.

What are symptoms of glaucoma?

Symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on its type and stage. One type is called open-angle glaucoma, and its symptoms can include:

  • Patchy blind spots in your peripheral or central vision, often in both eyes
  • Tunnel vision in its advanced stages

Another type of glaucoma is acute angle-closure glaucoma. Symptoms of this kind include:

  • Severe headache
  • Eye pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos around lights
  • Eye redness

Any case of glaucoma requires serious medical attention. Left untreated, glaucoma causes a total loss of vision. Even with treatment, many people who were once affected are prone to blindness.

Seek immediate medical care if you experience any of the above symptoms. Even without any symptoms, it’s wise to schedule eye exams for a glaucoma screening, which is vital to early detection and treatment.

Those who are at high risk or over the age of 65 should seek exams every two years. Anyone else outside of this demographic should schedule exams every four years beginning at age 40.

What causes glaucoma?

Like its symptoms, glaucoma causes can vary depending on its type. It results from damage to the optic nerve that’s related to increased pressure in the eye. When the eye overproduces fluid, and it builds up due to poor drainage, pressure increases.

This is the most common form of the disease and results when tissue in the eye known as the trabecular meshwork is partially blocked. The pressure increases very gradually, often leaving people unaware of a problem until they start losing their vision.

Angle-closure glaucoma

In this case, the iris bulges forward and narrows the access for drainage. With an inhibited circulation of fluids, pressure in the eye increases. This process can occur either suddenly or gradually, and it’s often triggered by a sudden dilation of the pupils. Both types are categorized as medical emergencies and require immediate attention.

Normal-tension glaucoma

This is a strand of glaucoma that doesn’t produce an increase in eye pressure. However, the optic nerve still becomes damaged due to a range of suspected causes, such as a sensitive optic nerve. Whatever the cause, it leads to an improper circulation of fluids that’s detrimental to your vision.

What are risk factors for glaucoma?

Glaucoma tends to affect people over the age of 40, although anyone is susceptible, even infants. In many cases, it’s often related to genes. Other specific risk factors include:

  • African-American, Irish, Russian, Japanese, Hispanic, Inuit, or Scandinavian descent
  • Having a family history of glaucoma
  • Having poor vision or certain eye conditions, such as nearsightedness
  • Having diabetes
  • Taking certain steroid medications
  • Trauma to the eye or certain eye surgeries

Dr. Mary Espy advises you to seek glaucoma screenings periodically to decrease the risk of it developing. Contact her practice today by calling or requesting an appointment online.