Glaucoma is a degenerative eye disease that damages the optic nerve. Most people do not experience any glaucoma symptoms until the condition is in its advanced stages. As damage to the optic nerve worsens, individuals are likely to develop blind spots in their field of vision.
At his eye clinic, Dr. Thomas Byrd offers glaucoma treatment and other comprehensive eye care services to preserve ocular health. Understanding glaucoma causes and risk factors can be vital to diagnosing glaucoma early on, before the vision is damaged. Here, we help our Detroit, Dearborn Heights, and Lincoln Park, MI, patients determine if they may be at greater risk of developing this eye disease.
What Causes Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is characterized by gradual damage to the optic nerve, which is usually caused by increased intraocular pressure. Elevated eye pressure is the result of a buildup of fluids within the eye. Normally, eye fluid drains out of the eye through a tissue called the trabecular meshwork. However, in individuals with glaucoma, the fluids either fail to drain properly, or fluids are overproduced to the point that they cannot be drained fast enough to keep eye pressure at normal levels. It is unclear exactly what causes some people to develop glaucoma, but many risk factors have been linked to the disease.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma, and it is especially common among older individuals. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in individuals age 60 and older. However, there are conditions besides age that can put a person at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. People who are considered high risk for glaucoma include:
- Individuals of black, Asian, or Hispanic descent
- People with a family history of glaucoma
- Individuals with certain medical conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and sickle cell anemia
- People who suffer from extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
- Individuals whose corneas are especially thin at the center
- People who have suffered eye injuries or those who have undergone eye surgery
- Individuals who take corticosteroid medications (especially in eye drop form) for an extended period of time
Everyone should make routine eye exams part of their normal healthcare routine, but it is especially important that those who are at high risk for glaucoma schedule comprehensive eye exams on a yearly basis, so that their intraocular eye pressure can be monitored.
Can the Vision Be Saved?
The damage caused by glaucoma is irreversible, but that doesn’t mean that the vision cannot be saved. There are several treatments that keep eye pressure under control to slow the progression of glaucoma and preserve the vision. These treatments are most effective when glaucoma is diagnosed in its early stages, before extensive damage is done. Individuals who are diagnosed with glaucoma can discuss their best course of treatment with Dr. Byrd.
At Byrd & Wyandotte Eye Clinic we offer a comprehensive range of eye care services to preserve ocular health and vision. To learn more about the services we provide and how they can benefit you, send us a message online, or call (734) 284-2444 to schedule an appointment.