Can Glaucoma Cause Blindness?

Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve in the eye becomes damaged. There are different types of glaucoma, and if you’re diagnosed with it, you might wonder if your vision is at risk.

Here at Bellmawr Eye Care, in Bellmawr, New Jersey, we screen for and treat glaucoma. The good news is that treatment can help prevent the condition from developing or stop its progression if it has started.

What is glaucoma?

Your optic nerve, which is a bundle of nerve fibers coated in myelin, serves as a communication path between your eye and your brain. Glaucoma is an eye condition in which this nerve is damaged, often by high pressure in your eye.

The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma. This form of glaucoma often develops slowly. Symptoms include patchy spots in your vision, changes to your peripheral vision, and changes to your central vision.

Other forms of glaucoma include angle-closure glaucoma and congenital glaucoma. These are less common, though. Angle-closure glaucoma is accompanied by headaches, nausea, and eye pain, and it’s considered a medical emergency. Congenital glaucoma occurs in babies and young children.

Does glaucoma cause blindness?

If left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness. Currently, it’s one of the leading causes of blindness in adults over age 60. Currently, 5% of glaucoma patients experience blindness, while 10% experience some degree of vision loss.

Glaucoma can cause blindness because damage to the optic nerve can’t be undone. Even though untreated glaucoma can cause blindness, treatment can prevent additional damage, which can help preserve your vision.

How is glaucoma detected?

Sometimes, the symptoms of open-angle glaucoma can develop so slowly that you might not even notice it. However, glaucoma can be detected during a dilated eye exam, which is a good reason to stay diligent with your eye care 

If we detect high pressure in your eyes, we can give you special eye drops to help reduce the pressure in your eyes. 

Treating glaucoma

We know that it can be scary to learn that you have glaucoma, but it’s important to remember that treatment can help save your vision. Treatments for glaucoma include prescription eye drops and surgery.

If you have high eye pressure that hasn’t yet progressed to glaucoma, it will be important to take eye drops, even if you don’t have symptoms. Lowering the pressure will help reduce the risk that you’ll develop glaucoma.

Stay on track with your eye care

Risk factors for developing glaucoma include being over age 60, having a family history of glaucoma, and being extremely nearsighted or farsighted. Having underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also increase your risk of developing glaucoma.

Undergoing regular eye exams — even if you don’t have these risk factors — is one of the best things you can do for your eye health. Detecting potential problems as early as possible can help ensure that you receive swift care and potentially save your vision.

To learn more about glaucoma or to schedule a comprehensive exam, book an appointment with Bellmawr Eye Care today.

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