Glaucoma Causes and Risk Factors
Glaucoma causes pressure to build up inside your eye. The increased pressure will damage your optic nerve, leading to permanent vision impairment. Unfortunately, symptoms are often unnoticeable until irreversible damage has occurred. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the risk factors that can lead to glaucoma. Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, when you know that you are more likely to develop the disease, our doctors can monitor your intraocular pressure. Then they can provide appropriate treatment before you experience permanent vision loss. To learn more about glaucoma causes and risk factors, contact our Nashville practice today.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Fundamentally, glaucoma is the result of increased intraocular pressure. However, no one knows exactly what causes this tension build up.
There are several kinds of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type. If you have this condition, the drainage channel inside your eye will gradually close. Excess fluid will not be able to leave your eye, and pressure will build up. As a result, you will start to lose peripheral vision. Open-angle glaucoma develops slowly, and your vision may be compromised before you notice it. Fortunately, when you undergo regular eye exams, our doctors can detect the signs of glaucoma before it affects your sight. Other, less common forms of glaucoma include:
- Closed-angle glaucoma
- Normal-tension glaucoma
- Pigmentary glaucoma
- Secondary glaucoma following an eye injury
- Congenital glaucoma
Are You at Risk for Glaucoma?
Although scientists continue to research the exact causes of this condition, they do know that there are certain factors that can raise your risk for glaucoma. These considerations include:
- Race: African-Americans are between six and eight times more likely to develop glaucoma. Japanese patients face a higher risk for normal-tension glaucoma.
- Age: If you are over age 60, you have a higher risk for this condition.
- Genetics: Glaucoma is more likely if a family member developed the disease.
- Overall health: If you suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or related conditions, there is a greater chance that you will have glaucoma.
- Medications: If you have used corticosteroids for an extended period of time, you are more prone to glaucoma.
- Eye health: Past eye injuries, inflammation, tumors, retinal detachment, and other serious optical problems can also put your vision at risk.
Glaucoma Treatment Options
In many parts of the world, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. Fortunately, in developed countries, it is a treatable disease. Eye drops, oral medications, and, in some cases, surgery can keep your intraocular pressure under control. However, while treatment can prevent vision damage, there is no way to restore lost sight. Therefore, you should schedule periodic eye exams. Typically you will need to have an exam every one to three years. However, if any of the above-mentioned risk factors apply to you, you should book more frequent appointments. Our doctors can guide you in the best ways to care for your eyes.
Contact Us to Protect Your Vision
To learn more about glaucoma and to schedule your eye exam, contact Choate Eye Associates today.