Glaucoma is a general name for a group of eye disorders that can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness if left untreated. High intraocular pressure (IOP) can damage the optic nerve. Glaucoma is usually asymptomatic until it reaches an advanced stage. However, Swati Kumar OD, FAAO, and the team at Alamo Eye Care can identify it during regular eye exams, increasing Swati Kumar OD, FAAOthe likelihood of successful treatment. Glaucoma remains the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and while there is no cure for the condition, early detection, and treatment can help slow down or prevent vision loss. Medical researchers are yet to identify the exact trigger of glaucoma, but the factors below may increase your risk of developing the disorder.
- Family history
Medical research suggests that people with a first-degree relative with glaucoma are up to four times more likely to develop the condition. Family members may share high intraocular pressure or a thin cornea, which can contribute to the development of the disorder. If you have a direct family member with the disorder, have regular eye exams and look out for the signs and symptoms of the disease to catch it early and prevent vision loss.
- High blood pressure
High blood pressure can destroy the small blood vessels in your eye, leading to decreased blood flow and oxygen supply to the optic nerve, increasing your risk of developing glaucoma. High blood pressure can also increase intraocular pressure (IOP), damaging the optic nerve. Your doctor may suggest several lifestyle changes and medication to manage your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing glaucoma and slow its progression if you already have it.
- Long-term use of corticosteroids
While corticosteroids can effectively reduce inflammation and improve symptoms, they also carry several potential side effects. Corticosteroids tend to increase your risk of developing glaucoma, particularly when you take high doses of the medication or use it for an extended period. Medical experts believe corticosteroids may affect fluid production and drainage, increasing the pressure within your eye.
- Previous eye injury
Trauma to your eye can lead to changes in the structure of the eye, including the drainage system that regulates the flow of aqueous humor. Any damage to this system can disrupt the fluid flow and pressure balance, leading to glaucoma development. Additionally, eye injuries can cause inflammation and scarring, further obstructing the drainage system and resulting in increased eye pressure and damage to your optic nerve over time. These injuries can include blunt force trauma, such as a blow to the eye, or penetrating injuries caused by sharp objects.
- Old age
As you age, your risk of developing glaucoma increases significantly because your eyes undergo structural changes that increase the risk of glaucoma. One of the changes is that the drainage system in your eye can become less efficient over time, leading to a buildup of fluid and increased pressure inside your eye. Additionally, the optic nerve fibers become thinner and more delicate as you age, making them more susceptible to damage.
For more information about glaucoma, call the Alamo Eye Care office or book an appointment online.