Glaucoma Awareness Month: Signs to Watch For

glaucoma awareness monthJanuary is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and we think it’s important to take time and share more about this commonly misunderstood group of eye conditions. While often thought of as a singular disease, glaucoma is really multiple diseases with similar traits and effects on the eye and vision.

The eye works a lot like a camera, reflecting images through its lens to the back of the eye, which then translates the sensory information to the optic nerve. That brings the information to the brain and is understood as vision. However, when glaucoma sets in, it starts to damage the optic nerve, slowly and gradually destroying its connection to the brain.

Left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss and blindness. However, there are treatment options that can help preserve your eyesight. This is why knowing the symptoms is so important.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

Unlike cataracts with a visual symptom of the lens clouding, or pain from eye strain, glaucoma conditions don’t typically have noticeable symptoms in early stages. In rare cases, there is sharp pain, which is a very uncommon form of glaucoma that needs immediate care.

It’s only when an eye doctor applies a dilated eye exam and sees inside that glaucoma’s damage becomes evident to a trained observer. Where there are symptoms that manifest, they can include:

  • Pain
  • Nausea
  • Eye redness
  • Headaches
  • Eye sensitivity
  • Rings or halos around bright lights
  • Blurry vision

Can Glaucoma Be Cured?

While there is no effective cure for reversing glaucoma’s effects when identified, the condition’s damage can be considerably slowed to stopped. Early detection can help, and treatment can prolong vision for years into the future before the condition begins to take a real toll. As a result, early detection of glaucoma is definitely pursued, and regular eye exams are emphasized for anyone over age 60 and definitely over 40 for specific demographics.

Evaluations typically include the following exams first to confirm changes:

  • Tonometry monitoring: Regular measurement of intraocular pressure to see if any changes have occurred.
  • Gonioscopy exams: Regular exam of the drainage system that keeps fluids from backing up in the eye for signs of glaucoma and increased pressure.
  • Visual field testing: An examination to confirm whether peripheral (side) vision is changing, a common sign of glaucoma progression.

Glaucoma treatments can include medicated eye drops designed to lower eye pressure. Additionally, more direct treatments include laser treatment for improved eye drainage. Glaucoma surgery for surgical improvement of drainage systems in the eye.

Schedule a Glaucoma Exam in Loveland, CO

With January as Glaucoma Awareness Month, it’s a perfect time to have a dilated eye exam and discuss any concerns with an eye care specialist.

Call our team at Kirk Eye Center to get started with a first appointment. Dr. John D. Kirk, a board-certified ophthalmologist, and Dr. Dustin Asay, a passionate optometrist, provide a full range of eye care services to our patients.

To request an appointment, please call 970-669-1107, or reach out through our contact page.

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