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What is the leading cause of blindness and vision impairment in the US? Glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a disease that usually refers to a group of diseases which can lead to damaging of the optic nerve due to high pressure within the eye. Glaucoma can also be caused by blocked or damaged blood vessels, eye inflammation, or severe eye infections.

Although there are several forms of glaucoma, the most commons types are primary open-angle glaucoma, or POAG, and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).

With primary open-angle glaucoma, the eye’s drainage canals become clogged over time, resulting in increased eye pressure as well as optic nerve damage. This disease affects around four million Americans, with many not even knowing it. Having a family member with the eye disease, being diabetic, or having cardiovascular disease also increases the chances of being diagnosed with glaucoma.

Often dubbed “the sneak thief of sight”, POAG can cause significant vision loss before it is diagnosed because many times there are no early symptoms associated with the disease. It can develop slowly over many years without any noticeable signs and often times is in advanced stages by the time symptoms do appear. Vision loss caused from advanced glaucoma is not reversible and can lead to permanent blindness.

The opposite is true with angle-closure glaucoma. Many of the symptoms of ACG are very noticeable early on and damage is occurs quickly rather than slowly.

Symptoms of Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma include:

  • Sudden sight loss
  • Hazy or blurred vision
  • Sever eye and head pain
  • Nausea or vomiting along with eye pain
  • Rainbow circles around bright lights

It is vital for patients, especially those at increased risk of glaucoma, to have consistent eye exams. Glaucoma can be diagnosed y performing different eye tests including a visual acuity test as well as eye pressure tests.

If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, it is important to follow the prescribed treatment to maintain eye pressure as well as follow up with regularly set eye examinations with your optometrist.

Glaucoma can be devastating but if caught early, treatment can help those diagnosed transition to a new normal along with managing symptoms.

If you are at risk or believe you are having symptoms of glaucoma, please give us a call so we can diagnose and start a treatment plan.

When it comes to the leading cause of blindness in American adults, diabetic retinopathy is to blame. This diabetes-related eye disease causes semi or complete loss of vision by changing the blood vessels in the retina. Diabetic retinopathy has four different stages. There are different symptoms depending on which stage it is in.

The four stages of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • Mild Nonproliferative Retinopathy

    • This beginning stage is often where swelling begins in the retina’s blood vessels. Because they are so tiny, leaking may begin to occur.
  • Moderate Nonproliferative Retinopathy

    • This stage is where the blood vessels which are essential for nourishing the retina become blocked. Swelling and leaking are still occurring in the blood vessels.

  • Severe Nonproliferative Retinopathy

    • In this advanced stage, the blood vessels are blocked which means the retina is no longer getting the blood supply it needs to work correctly. This is the last stage before diabetic retinopathy becomes proliferative as a result of the body sending signals to grow more blood vessels.
  • Proliferative Retinopathy

    • This is the final advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy. Signals have been sent to grow new blood vessels which are grown in an abnormal state. Because of where they are grown along the retina and their fragile state, leaking of blood causes severe vision loss or sometimes even blindness.

If diabetic retinopathy is discovered early, there is a treatment for it. This is why annual eye exams, especially for those with diabetes, is crucial to maintaining eye health. There are also treatments available for those who have lost partial vision from advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy.

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