Know the Warning Signs of Glaucoma

Are you at risk for glaucoma? Anyone can develop glaucoma, but there are definitely people who are at higher risk. Based on your heritage, age, health and personal history, you can get a good idea of your risk and take steps to counteract it.

  • Some ethnic groups are at a higher risk for glaucoma. People of Asian heritage have an increased risk, as do Hispanic people, particularly in older age groups. Perhaps the highest risk is for African American people, in whom glaucoma is six to eight times more common than it is in Americans of European descent. In fact, glaucoma is second only to cataracts as a cause of blindness African Americans.
  • Age increases your risk of developing glaucoma. People over forty are at a higher risk of glaucoma than younger people, and that risk gets higher with age. Once a person reaches age sixty, the risk of glaucoma is about six times higher than that of a younger person.
  • There are some health conditions that have been linked with glaucoma. Having high eye pressure, being nearsighted or farsighted, having corneas that are thin in the center, or having a thinning optic nerve can all contribute to your risk of glaucoma. However, other medical conditions that you might not think relate to your eyes can raise your risk too. High blood pressure, diabetes, migraines and poor blood circulation are all factors in a person’s glaucoma risk.
  • Your family history also has an impact on your glaucoma risk. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma, and it’s hereditary. If any members of your immediate family have this kind of glaucoma, you are at a much higher risk than most of the population.
  • Your personal history can put you at a higher risk for this condition. Some sports, such as boxing and baseball, put you at risk of eye injuries that can cause glaucoma. People who have used steroid medications are also at an increased risk for glaucoma.

There are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of glaucoma. Maintaining a healthy weight is as important to your eye health as it is to your health overall. If you want to further reduce your risk, don’t smoke and try to take control of medical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. Get exercise daily, and wear sunglasses and hats outside to prevent overexposure to sunlight. Your diet has an impact on your health, including your eye health, so focus on working “vision” foods into your diet. These include dark green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, foods abundant in vitamins C, E, A, and D, foods that contain zinc, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids.

If you had glaucoma, would you know that you had it? In many cases, there are no physical symptoms, though some people experience eye pain, a headache, blurred vision and halos around lights due to an extreme increase in eye pressure. Often, the first sign of glaucoma is a loss in peripheral vision, but that happens after the disease has progressed. Catching glaucoma early is important because your doctor can help you to control the effects of the disease.

The fact that glaucoma often goes undetected underscores the importance of regular appointments with a qualified eye doctor. If you’re looking for an ophthalmologist or optometrist in Derry, Londonderry or Windham, Spindel Eye Associates is here for you. Celebrating over thirty years of eye care, we proudly provide our patients with personalized eye care using top-of-the-line technology. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 603.421.6536 or contact us through our website.

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