Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the US, just behind cataracts at number one. In its early stages, glaucoma causes no symptoms. That’s why 50% of people with the disease aren’t aware they have it.
Seeing the eye doctor regularly is your best preventive measure to avoid loss of vision from glaucoma. When we catch it In its early stages, we can prevent loss of sight. Our board-certified ophthalmologists with Wolchok Eye Associates, PA, in Jacksonville, Florida, treat many patients with glaucoma.
The following three factors can increase your risk of glaucoma. Knowing your risk factors helps you plan your preventive care. Make sure you visit your ophthalmologist every year if you’re 60 or older and on a recommended schedule when you’re younger.
You can see outward signs of aging as you grow older: fine lines and wrinkles or stiff knees in the morning. Organs and tissue inside your body are aging as well.
In Americans over age 40, glaucoma is the number one cause of vision loss. After you turn 60, you have six times the risk of developing glaucoma than when you were younger.
Glaucoma is a disease that damages your optic nerve, the passageway connecting your retina to the brain. Your eye contains fluid that keeps it healthy. Sometimes the channel that drains the fluid out of your eye weakens and doesn’t work properly. The fluid gradually builds up over time and creates too much pressure inside your eye, or, on the other hand, your eye produces too much fluid, creating extra pressure in it. The fluid buildup damages the optic nerve.
Researchers are still investigating the causes behind the fluid buildup. They don’t yet have all the answers as to how glaucoma develops. Sometimes it develops with normal eye pressure.
If you have a close family member with glaucoma, you’re at increased risk, so the disease has a genetic component. Add that to being over age 60, and your risk increases even more.
Your race influences whether you’re at increased risk of glaucoma. Studies have found that African Americans have thinner corneas than those of European descent, and thin corneas increase your risk of glaucoma.
The Centers for Disease Control notes that if you’re African American, your risk of glaucoma is 6 to 8 times that of Caucasians. The disease progresses faster, occurs earlier, and blindness from glaucoma is more common in African Americans. Hispanic Americans are also at increased risk.
Is your diabetes under control? Diabetic retinopathy is a risk when your diabetes isn’t well managed. If you have diabetes retinopathy, atypical blood vessels can protrude from the retina and stop eye fluid from draining properly, causing a fluid buildup and neovascular glaucoma. Retinal detachment from diabetes can also cause vision loss.
If you have diabetes, you're at double the risk for glaucoma compared to those who don’t have it. You can see how important regular eye exams are, especially if you’re in a high-risk group.
Call Wolchok Eye Associates, PA, or book an appointment today through our online portal. We help preserve your sight.