Glaucoma affects more than 2.7 million Americans ages 40 and older, according to the Mayo Clinic, and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. A board-certified, fellowship-trained ophthalmologist specializing in treating diseases affecting the retina, Mark R Fleckner MD strives to educate patients and the public in order to reduce the occurrence of such diseases. He explains what you need to know about glaucoma, including the importance of regular testing.
Glaucoma is a result of high fluid pressure in the eyeball. It can be caused by diabetes, high myopia, and high blood pressure, as well as genetics, and certain demographics, including older adults, are at higher risk. The high pressure damages the optic nerve, a pathway that delivers signals from the eye to the brain.
The pernicious disease typically doesn’t present discernible symptoms in its early stages until vision loss has already begun. At that point, you may experience blurriness, see halos or rainbows around light sources, and experience headaches, eye pain, or nausea.
Too many people do not visit their eye doctor and receive a diagnosis until they’ve already begun to experience changes to their vision. By that time, Dr. Mark Fleckner says, the damage has been done. While it may be possible to slow the progression of the disease, it is quite challenging to do so, and typically, vision cannot be completely restored.
As with most ailments, early detection can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment. This is why seeing an eye doctor regularly is crucial. For people in high-risk groups, Dr. Mark Fleckner recommends getting a glaucoma screening every one to two years.
During an eye exam, which is different from a vision test, the doctor will examine the eye for signs of trouble which may not be noticeable to you. The test includes assessing the optic nerve shape, color, depth, size, and vessels, as well as examining the retina. Dr. Mark Fleckner explains this is done through either using a machine to direct a puff of air into the eye or by using fluid drops to numb the eye so the ophthalmologist can touch it without causing any pain or discomfort.