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Five Common Myths of Glaucoma

September 21, 2019

Glaucoma is an eye disease that millions of Americans have to deal with. This serious disease is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Many people living with glaucoma aren’t even aware they have it because symptoms rarely show up until the late stages of the disease.

Glaucoma occurs when fluid does not flow properly out of the eye which causes intraocular pressure to build. This intraocular pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss.

There are many misconceptions about this complicated disease. Learn about the five most common myths about glaucoma below.

Myth 1. Surgery can cure glaucoma.

There is no way to cure glaucoma. Surgical procedures can effectively treat symptoms of the disease and can stop vision loss from getting worse. These surgical procedures have been proven effective in halting the progression of vision loss.

Selective laser trabeculoplasty and laser peripheral iridotomy are the two most common laser treatment procedures used to help reduce intraocular pressure.

Selective laser trabeculoplasty treats patients with open-angle glaucoma by creating small burns near the drainage angle to open the angle up.

Laser peripheral iridotomy is performed on patients with closed-angle glaucoma. A small hole is made in the iris to create normal drainage.

When patients have not had any luck with laser treatments, a trabeculectomy is performed. This is where a new drain is created in the eye to reduce pressure.

Myth 2. Only old people have glaucoma.

Although glaucoma is more common in older populations, everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma. This disease can affect anyone, but there are some people more at risk than others. African-Americans and Latin Americans are more at risk to develop the disease than people who are Caucasian. Glaucoma is also more common in people who have a history of eye injury, thin corneas, hypertension, or high degrees of nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Myth 3. I will know if I develop glaucoma.

Most people who develop glaucoma do not experience any symptoms in the early stages of the disease. They only begin to notice the symptoms in the later stages, and by that point, they have already lost part of their vision that they can’t get back.

One way to identify glaucoma is by having regular eye examinations. Your eye doctor can determine if you have developed the disease in the early stages, before extensive vision loss has occurred. When you catch the disease early, you can prevent it from getting worse and preserve more of your vision. It’s crucial to undergo frequent eye exams, especially if you are at high risk for glaucoma.

Myth 4. Surgery is the only way to treat glaucoma.

There are various non-operative methods that can help treat the symptoms of glaucoma. These methods include topical eye drops and oral medication that help the fluid flow properly out of the eye, reduce the amount of pressure, and decrease damage to the optic nerve.

Myth 5. There’s only one form of glaucoma.

There are many different forms of glaucoma, with the two most common being open-angle and closed-angle.

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type, and happens when the drainage angle becomes blocked and pressure increases. Symptoms aren’t very noticeable, but include loss of peripheral vision and cloudiness.

Closed-angle occurs when the drainage angle of the eye narrows or closes and blocks the drainage angle completely. Symptoms are usually identified earlier in this form of glaucoma than in open-angle glaucoma because they include eye pain, blurred vision, headaches, halos around lights, nausea, and vomiting.

Now that you understand glaucoma a little better, be sure to schedule regular eye exams and be on the lookout for possible symptoms.

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