Glaucoma is a thief of eyesight and the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Unfortunately, nearly half the people that have glaucoma don’t know they have it. The symptoms aren’t evident, as the damage to the optic nerve occurs without any indication that it is even happening. The indicator that something is wrong comes when eyesight starts to fail. This means that the optic nerve has already been damaged.
How to Tell You Have Glaucoma
You can’t feel when you develop glaucoma, and you aren’t going to notice any differences in your eyesight. It takes a comprehensive eye exam by an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or glaucoma specialist to detect the condition before it causes so much damage that you lose your sight. Although checking the pressure inside the eye and finding that it is high is an indicator that glaucoma exists, it isn’t enough. An optic nerve inspection and testing of the visual field also are necessary.
The recommendation by the American Academy of Ophthalmology is for people to have a comprehensive eye exam by 40 years old and every two to four years between the ages of 40 and 54. The frequency changes to one to three years from the ages of 55 to 64 and then every one to two years for age 65 and older.
Those with diabetes and a family history of glaucoma are at a higher risk. Ethnicity can also be a factor. These activities also increase a person’s risk of developing glaucoma or can worsen the condition:
- Headstand yoga positions because of increased blood flow to the eyes. This is especially true of someone who already has glaucoma. Downward dog is one of these positions, so avoid it at all costs.
- Surgeries performed in the inverted position, which means the head is lower than the heart for an extended period. Spinal and prostate surgeries are commonly performed in an inverted position. It is best to talk to your surgeons so they know that this position puts you at risk.
- Glaucoma patients shouldn’t hold their breath while exerting themselves because it affects eye pressure.
- Blood pressure medication shouldn’t be taken at night. Blood pressure naturally reduces at night, so taking medication at night can cause pressure to go too low.
- Untreated sleep apnea can lead to normal-tension glaucoma. A person with glaucoma who snores should be evaluated for sleep apnea.
- Avoid sleeping on the side of the eye with glaucoma, and try to keep the eye from being compressed into the pillow. Eye shields can be worn to protect the eye at night. It is best to sleep face up.
Early Detection Is Everything
Glaucoma is a progressive condition, which is why early detection and treatment are everything for saving your eyesight. This is the only way to prevent vision impairment from glaucoma so that you don’t later go blind. Even if you seem to be fine, make an appointment with an eye doctor to make sure you stay fine. You are either going to find out you’re OK or you are going to find out there is an issue that there is a solution for.