Can Glaucoma Cause Blindness?

By David Gross on April 30, 2020


Photo of young children running shows results of peripheral vision loss.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that increase intraocular eye pressure. Untreated, it can lead to vision loss and even complete blindness.  

Even early stages of glaucoma can damage the retina and optic nerve. Unfortunately, one of the first symptoms of this eye disease, loss of peripheral vision, often goes unnoticed. This is one reason why early detection is critical. Deen-Gross Eye Centers offers comprehensive eye exams for patients who live in Merrillville, IN, and  Hobart, IN.     

A Look at How Glaucoma Causes Blindness

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, around 2.3 million Americans have glaucoma. Approximately 10% of those cases result in vision impairment and 5% result in blindness. 

The relationship between vision loss and glaucoma is clear, but the exact cause of blindness isn’t known. Research suggests that pressure on sensitive nerve cells eventually leads to vision loss. Eye pressure can lead to the slow death of retinal ganglion cells that connect to the optic nerve. Another potential cause may be that glaucoma impairs blood flow to nerve cells. 

Are All Types of Glaucoma Equally Dangerous?

There are several types of glaucoma, all of which can lead to vision loss and blindness. Some types of glaucoma are more dangerous, though, and require immediate treatment to prevent blindness.

Acute (Angle-closure) Glaucoma

Acute glaucoma is considered the most dangerous form of this eye disease because the symptoms come on rapidly and vision loss can result quickly. Acute glaucoma occurs when the eye’s natural drainage system becomes blocked. This results in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure, which can be painful. Individuals who experience this eye emergency often experience blurred vision, headaches, and nausea. 

If you are experiencing the symptoms of acute glaucoma, call our office immediately at (219) 769-8989. We are equipped to handle eye emergencies. 

Chronic (Open-angle) Glaucoma

The symptoms of chronic glaucoma often manifest slowly, sometimes over the course of years. Individuals who suffer from chronic glaucoma often lose peripheral vision. Since loss of vision in this area isn’t always noticeable, we recommend that adults (especially seniors) schedule regular eye exams. 

How Can I Lower My Risk of Vision Loss?

To lower your risk of glaucoma-related vision loss, you should understand the leading risk factors of glaucoma. If you are over 60 or have a family history of glaucoma, you should seek regular eye exams at an interval determined by your eye doctor. The National Eye Institute recommends that adults 60 and over undergo exams for glaucoma annually. 

Diagnosis

Our Merrillville, IN, eye doctors are experts at finding signs of glaucoma. Screenings for glaucoma are included as part of our comprehensive eye exams. Our vision care professionals can diagnose glaucoma by:

  • Measuring Intraocular Pressure
  • Testing for Optic Nerve Damage
  • Measuring Cornea Thickness
  • Testing Your Peripheral Vision

Treatment

Surgical procedures will be saved as a last resort when possible. In most cases, our doctors will treat glaucoma using conservative treatments like eye drops and prescription medications. If those treatments do not work, we offer laser treatments, which may need to be performed on a regular basis.  

Schedule Your Glaucoma Treatment Today

Are you 60 or over? Do you have a family history of glaucoma? A short visit to our eye center can give you peace of mind if you have concerns about this eye disease. If one of our doctors does find signs of glaucoma, most stages of the eye disease can be treated through conservative treatments. 

To schedule your next visit, please contact our office online or call (219) 769-8989.

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