Glaucoma is known as the silent thief of sight. Most people assume that they would notice if they were losing their vision, but glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss with no warning signs. Once a patient realizes a change in vision, damage has already been done. The only way to prevent glaucoma is by a glaucoma screening. Damage from glaucoma is irreversible, so it must be detected right away to prevent permanent vision loss.
What is Glaucoma?
There are 40 different types of glaucoma, but they have similarities. All glaucoma damages the optic nerve when intraocular pressure (pressure on the inside of the eye) rises to a dangerous level. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness and affects 2to 3 percent of the population over the age of 40 and about 15 percent of people over 80.
What is a Glaucoma Test?
A glaucoma test is a simple and painless procedure. There are many different types of glaucoma tests because glaucoma can be difficult to diagnose. Here are a few common tests to detect glaucoma:
- Tonometry— this measures the pressure on the inside of the eye. Eye drops are used to numb the eye and your eye doctor uses a tonometer to measure the intraocular pressure by a tiny amount of pressure.
- Perimetry— this visual field test makes a map of your field of vision. You will be asked to look straight ahead and indicate when you see a moving light pass your field of vision. Glaucoma affects the peripheral vision, so if you cannot see light in the periphery of your field of vision, your eye doctor may run more tests.
- Ophthalmoscopy— eye drops are used to dilate your pupil so your eye doctor can view the shape and color of your optic nerve. If your optic nerve looks unusual or if your intraocular pressure is not within the normal range, you may need more testing (Source: Glaucoma Research Foundation).
How can I Prevent Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is painless and has very few symptoms. Some patients do notice a decrease in their peripheral vision or they may notice some graying or contrast change in their vision. Other patients complain of glare. However, contrast changes, graying or glare are also common symptoms of cataracts. If you notice any changes in your vision, do not delay in making an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor. Staying current with your comprehensive eye exams is the best prevention for glaucoma. Most eye doctors recommend a full eye exam every year or two, but the frequency depends on the individual. Make sure that you follow your doctor’s recommendations for you (Source: Time Warner Cable News).