When Should I Start Worrying About Glaucoma?

Older couple walking in trail in the woods

As we get older, we have more diseases that we’re susceptible to. Many of these conditions are vision-related.

With age comes declining vision and increased risk for cataracts or glaucoma. But when are you old enough to start worrying about these conditions?

Well, for one thing, you shouldn’t worry. Many of these conditions are treatable. But for glaucoma, it’s important to catch the disease early on to prevent permanent damage.

You should be aware of when and how you’re most susceptible. You should also be able to recognize the symptoms of glaucoma and have regular eye exams. Keep reading to learn more about this condition!

Risk Factors

You’re most at risk of developing glaucoma if you’re above the age of 60. But for some people, they may be at high risk even earlier.

African Americans are often more susceptible to glaucoma and are at high risk at age 40. The same is true if you are Latin American or Hispanic. Another large factor with glaucoma is your family history.

If you have parents or grandparents with glaucoma, you are more likely to develop it. You are also at greater risk if you are severely nearsighted, take steroids, have hypertension, or have very thin corneas.

Most of these risk factors you can assess for yourself. But it’s still important to go see your eye doctor on a regular basis.

They can help check your eyes for disease and diagnose you as early as possible if you do develop glaucoma.
Signs and Symptoms

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve. There are two main types of glaucoma that have different symptoms that you should watch out for.

Open-Angle Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the more common form of glaucoma. It happens when fluid in the eye doesn’t drain as it should. Pressure builds as the fluids become trapped.

This pressure is what damages the optic nerve. Open-angle glaucoma usually has no symptoms at first. Over time, the patient’s peripheral vision becomes worse and worse.

This will eventually look like looking through a tunnel. Without treatment, the patient can go completely blind.

Regular eye exams are the only way to diagnose open-angle glaucoma early enough. When caught early enough, vision loss is possible to avoid.

Closed-Angle Glaucoma

Closed-angle glaucoma occurs when the iris is too close to the drainage channel. If the iris ends up covering the channel, pressure builds up quickly and causes a sudden attack.

This kind of attack is usually accompanied by sudden symptoms. These include blurry vision, severe eye pain, headache, nausea, and seeing rainbow halos around lights.

Closed-angle glaucoma is a medical emergency and needs immediate treatment to prevent blindness. To prevent a sudden attack, regular eye exams are key!

Though closed-angle glaucoma comes on fast, it is possible to detect early.

Want to learn more about glaucoma and assess your risk? Contact Ellis Eye in San Francisco, CA to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ellis today! It’s never too early or late to make your eye health a priority.