Glaucoma – The Silent Enemy of Vision

Q. I have a parent with glaucoma; if my vision seems OK, do I have to worry about glaucoma?

A. Glaucoma has traditionally been known as the “thief that takes your vision in the night” The disease damages delicate nerve fibers around the optic nerve when the pressure in the eye is too high. This elevation of pressure is, in the majority of afflicted individuals, not something that produces symptoms in its early stages. If left untreated for a long enough period of time, compression of nerve fibers in the retina leads to loss of areas of the visual field. In general, when this loss progresses to the point of being noticeable, we have already lost the battle to preserve sight and we can only treat with medications, laser, or surgery to lower pressure to prevent future loss.

The key to treatment is to have your pressure checked (glaucoma test ) routinely by your ophthalmologist. If you have a family history, have diabetes, or have had other inflammatory eye diseases in the past, then the statistics are a little higher than you may develop a glaucoma issue as well. We routinely recommend a glaucoma evaluation every year for individuals over age 40. If detected early and treated, the chances of preserving vision through eye drops or laser are excellent. If glaucoma does not respond to conservative measures, there are modern surgical procedures such as shunts that can also be utilized.