What Is Glaucoma and How Early Can It Be Detected?

What Is Glaucoma and How Early Can It Be Detected?

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When the eye is unable to drain fluid properly or overproducing fluid and pressure builds up, it’s called glaucoma. There are several different types but it’s primarily characterized by damage to the optic nerve. Unfortunately, when it occurs, there may not be any symptoms.

But what exactly is glaucoma, who is at risk of getting it, and how do you detect it early? Let’s take an in-depth look at the disorder and what you can do to catch it early.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that occurs when the optic nerve is progressively damaged over time. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. This fluid increases pressure on the eye and in turn, causes damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma often occurs because of increased pressure in the eye.

Types of Glaucoma

There are a number of types of glaucoma and they include:

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the condition. This form tends to happen gradually and as a result, the eye pressure slowly builds and then starts to damage the optic nerve. This type of glaucoma also tends to be painless with little to no symptoms which is why it’s not often caught early. Regular eye exams may be the only way to catch open-angle glaucoma early.

People with preexisting conditions such as diabetes or hypertension are at high risk of suffering from this condition.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma

Also known as narrow-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is considered a medical emergency and requires medical attention as soon as possible. With this type of glaucoma, the iris blocks part of the angle of the eye and this leads to the fluid not being able to drain properly. It causes a sudden increase in eye pressure and can lead to blindness if not addressed quickly enough.

Congenital Glaucoma

Congenital glaucoma is present at birth or shows up in the first few years of life and occurs when the angle of the eye does not allow for proper drainage of fluid. When it occurs after birth, it’s often due to injury or an underlying medical condition.

Secondary Glaucoma

Secondary glaucoma is any glaucoma that develops due to a complication of eye surgery, injury, disease, or due to another eye condition.

Risk Factors for Glaucoma

There are several factors that can put some people more at risk of developing glaucoma over others. These risk factors include:

  • Cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or diabetes
  • Eye injuries
  • Eye complications, such as a detached retina or a thin cornea
  • Family medical history of glaucoma

How Early is Glaucoma Detected

The lack of symptoms during the early phases of glaucoma makes detection challenging. However, by getting regular eye exams, you can catch it early.

A thorough dilated eye exam is the best method for early detection of glaucoma. During the eye exam, a specialized instrument magnifies the optic nerve and retina by directing a bright light into the back of the eye. Doing so helps your ophthalmologist determine whether or not there is damage to the optic nerve and if glaucoma is an issue.

Prescription eye drops, oral medicines, laser treatment, surgery, or a combination of these approaches can help manage and treat the issue if it’s diagnosed in its early stages.

Schedule A Consultation

Glaucoma is completely manageable if detected early enough. That’s why regular eye exams are so important. If you’re worried about glaucoma or simply need your yearly eye exam, the doctors at Eye Associates of Tuscon are here for you. Our team is more than happy to walk you through an exam and answer any questions you may have.

To schedule a consultation today, call our Tuscon, AZ office at 520-888-6600 or use our online scheduling form.

Our Locations

Northwest Office

6130 N. La Cholla Blvd., #245
Tucson, AZ 85741

Eastside Office

5240 E Knight Drive, #104
Tucson, AZ 85712

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