Glaucoma often is called the "silent thief of sight," because most types typically cause no pain and produce no symptoms until noticeable vision loss occurs. Glaucoma that is undetected and untreated can eventually cause harm to the optic nerve that carries information from the eye to the brain causing peripheral vision loss and eventually lead to blindness.
The two most common types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma and and acute angle-closure glaucoma.
About half of Americans with primary open-angle glaucoma don't know they have it. By the time you notice it, permanent damage already has occurred.
With acute angle-closure glaucoma sudden symptoms occur such as eye pain, headaches, halos around lights, dilated pupils, vision loss, red eyes, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms may last for a few hours, then return again for another round. Each attack can cause progressively more vision loss.
Glaucoma can be detected in its early stages through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. During the exam, drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils. This allows your eye care professional to examine the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma and other vision problems. If you are over age 50, make comprehensive dilated eye exams part of your routine health care.
Treatment can involve glaucoma surgery, lasers or medication, depending on the severity. Eye drops with medication aimed at lowering eye pressure usually are tried first.
Follow These Tips for Healthier Eyes and Better Vision:
It’s easy to forget how important eye health is, until a problem comes up. Here are some easy, commonsense tips to help avoid macular degeneration, cataracts, blurry “computer” vision and more.
1. Eat greens. Ingesting lots of leafy green vegetables like spinach, collard greens and kale help avoid macular degeneration. (The “macula” is an area at the back of the eye that enables us to see fine details. When the macula doesn’t work, there is blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision).
2. Take vitamins. There are supplements made specifically for eye health. Be sure that they include these: Vitamins A, C, E and B2 and the minerals zinc and selenium.
3. Keep your eyes hydrated. A simple saline solution can help to lubricate and soothe eyes. (Be sure to check with your doctor if you experience stinging or burning in your eyes, or a sandy or gritty feeling, or you don’t produce tears when you cry. These symptoms could indicate “dry eye,” a condition that needs medical attention).
4. Eat apricots and blueberries. Blueberries are associated with reduction of eye fatigue and apricots are rich in beta carotene and lycopene, both of which promote good vision.
5. Get plenty of Omega 3 fish oil. It helps clear eyesight and eye health. (Heart-healthy diets in general tend to be good for the eyes as well, since blood circulation is so important to eye health).
6. Pamper your eyes. Try placing two slices of soothing cucumber over closed eyes for 15 minutes. It cools and refreshes the eyes.
7. Drink tea. It’s thought that drinking tea might help to deter cataracts.
8. Try Bilberry. This herbal remedy, according to some herbalists, can help to improve night vision.
9. Wear UV filtering sunglasses. Harmful UVA and UVB rays can contribute to cataracts.
10. Give them a break. If you work at a computer, remember the 20/20/20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes. For 20 seconds, look at something 20 feet away or farther. This allows your eyes to refocus and relax and prevents the blurry vision that can occur by staring at a computer screen for too long.
These common sense tips, in addition to regular visits to a qualified ophthalmologist, will help your eyes stay healthy for years to come.
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