When it comes to our health, it’s always better to prevent than to cure. Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness, so it’s important to know its symptoms, risk factors, and preventive measures. This group of eye disorders can cause irreversible vision loss and affects millions of people worldwide. It’s known as the “silent thief of sight” due to its gradual progression.
Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged, which affects the transmission of important information from the eyes to the brain. The damage is caused by increased pressure in the eye.
Glaucoma initially causes vision impairment and blind spots in peripheral vision, eventually leading to “tunnel vision” and even complete blindness. The scariest part is that it’s undetectable until it has caused significant damage. That’s why prevention of Glaucoma is crucial to safeguard your vision.
Understanding Glaucoma Risk Factors
The cause of glaucoma is still unknown, making it difficult to comprehend and prevent the disease fully. However, several risk factors can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing it. By acknowledging these factors, people can take precautions and keep track of their eye health. Here are some of the significant risk factors:
- Age – Glaucoma is more likely to occur in individuals as they age. Although the condition can affect anyone, it becomes more prevalent with increasing age. Those over 60 years old are at the highest risk of developing Glaucoma. To maintain good eye health, it is important for everyone over 40 to schedule eye checkups regularly.
- Family History – If you have a parent or sibling with Glaucoma, you are at a higher risk of developing the condition yourself. The fact that Glaucoma has a genetic component means that specific genes may contribute to its development. Therefore, informing your eye care provider about any family history of Glaucoma is crucial.
- Ethnicity – Although the reasons are not fully understood, research shows that certain ethnic groups are at a higher risk of developing certain types of Glaucoma. Here is a list of ethnicities that are more susceptible to Glaucoma:
- Thin Cornea: The thickness of your cornea can affect your risk of developing Glaucoma. Due to structural differences, those with thinner corneas have a higher chance of getting the disease. A comprehensive eye exam with your eye care professional can measure the thickness of your cornea.
- Elevated Eye Pressure – Glaucoma is commonly caused by Increased Intraocular Pressure (IOP). Yet, it’s essential to note that not everyone with high IOP will develop Glaucoma. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to undergo regular examinations that measure IOP.
- Prolonged Steroid Use – Taking corticosteroid medications for an extended period can raise the chances of developing Glaucoma. If someone is receiving long-term steroid treatment, they need to have a conversation with their healthcare provider about the possible side effects.
- Eye Trauma – It’s important to protect your eyes during activities that could cause injury, as any serious damage to the eye can heighten the chances of developing Glaucoma.
- Medication indication-certain medication indication such as diabetes, migraines,high BP & sickle cell anaemia.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits for Glaucoma Prevention
To avoid developing Glaucoma, it’s crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means taking proactive measures to keep your eyes in optimal health.
- Regular Eye Exams – Routine eye examinations are the key to early detection and management. It is vital to have comprehensive eye exams at least every two years. The exams include measuring the IOP, assessing the optic nerve, visual field testing and other evaluations to identify any signs of the disorder. Early detection allows for timely intervention and implementation of preventative measures.
- Know Your Family History – Any family history of Glaucoma must be mentioned to your eye care professional during your appointments. This information helps them assess the risks and determine the frequency of your eye exams.
- Maintain Healthy Lifestyle Habits – Several lifestyle factors can contribute to maintaining good eye health. These include :
- Regular Exercise
- Balanced Diet
- Limited Caffeine Intake
- Avoid Alcohol
- Protect Your Eyes
- Manage Underlying Medical Conditions
- Avoid Steroid USe
- Follow Medication Instructions
Since the true causes of Glaucoma are still not fully understood, taking a proactive approach to maintaining eye health and staying aware is the only way to reduce the risk and impact of Glaucoma. Let us commit to preserving our vision by taking these measures to ensure we can enjoy seeing this beautiful world for a long time.