As you enter your 60s, you may experience some decline or changes in your vision. Most of these changes are normal parts of the aging process, such as not being able to see fine print. But some vision changes, such as glaucoma, can have profound effects on your quality of life and personal well-being.
One of the things you can do to protect your eyesight is have your eyes checked annually. Annual eye exams allow an optometrist to detect the signs of glaucoma before it advances or becomes worse.
Here's how an eye exam detects glaucoma and what you can do to protect your vision if you have it.
Learn About Glaucoma
Glaucoma is one of the most life-changing eye diseases today because it has the potential to cause permanent loss of vision in those it affects. But one of the major problems with glaucoma is that it can sneak up on you without warning. In most cases, you won't know that you have glaucoma until you lose some of all of your ability to see.
Glaucoma develops when drainage tissues in the front part of the eye clog up, which causes fluid to build up. The buildup of fluids places stress and pressure on the optic nerve, until it can no longer receive and convey information to your brain properly. High pressure may also limit or hinder blood flow to the nerve.
An eye exam can't detect glaucoma itself, but the test can tell whether or not you have increased pressure in your eyes. If you do have increased pressure in your eyes, an optometrist or ophthalmologist examines the area in the back of your eyes with optic nerve imaging technology.
Optic nerve imaging technology, like the fundus camera, monitors changes in the optic nerve. The optic nerve can become thin and weak from a loss of blood circulation. If your optic nerve does show signs of thinning, it can cause significant damage to your eyes.
You can lower your eye pressure and treat glaucoma with the right tips.
Manage and Treat Glaucoma
If the pressure in your eyes continues to increase, you can lose your vision to glaucoma. To prevent a partial or full loss of vision, an eye doctor will strive to reduce the pressure in your eyes. An eye specialist may have you use eye drops during the initial stages of your treatment. If eye drops fail to work, your specialist may suggest surgery.
During surgery, an eye doctor or surgeon can make an incision in the clogged eye tissue to release eye pressure. Often eye doctors or surgeons place devices called shunts in the incised tissue to allow fluid to drain permanently. You usually don't need further surgery unless the device fails.
An eye doctor may schedule multiple visits for you during the initial stages of your treatment. If your condition stabilizes, a doctor can check your eyes on an annual basis. It's important to understand that even if treatment lowers your eye pressure, the pressure can spike or increase again over time.
You can also keep your eye pressure down by managing your overall health, especially if you have a health problem that affects your eyes. For instance, high blood sugar (diabetes) may potentially raise the pressure in your eyes if it damages the blood vessels in your retina. The retina lies close to the optic nerve, so damage to the retina can inadvertently affect the optic nerve.
Also, report any changes in your vision to an eye doctor immediately. These changes may include blurriness, pain, and a loss of vision. You may need to undergo further treatments for your high eye pressure and glaucoma.
For more information about glaucoma and the importance of an eye exam, contact Sugarloaf EyeCare for an appointment.