Glaucoma Risk Factors and Testing

By Jeffrey Schultz on September 27, 2012

Cleveland Glaucoma TestingGlaucoma is a serious eye condition that can seriously damage a patient's vision; it can even result in blindness if left untreated. Cleveland optometrist Jeffrey Schultz performs comprehensive eye exams on patients of all ages to test for glaucoma. Read on to learn more about the risk factors and symptoms of glaucoma, in addition to the types of tests we can perform to diagnose the condition.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors associated with glaucoma, including:

  • Age: Patients that are over the age of 60 face an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Ethnic background: African-Americans have a five times greater risk of developing glaucoma compared to Caucasians; further, they frequently develop the disease at an earlier age and with greater damage to vision. Mexican-Americans and Asian-Americans are also more likely to develop glaucoma.
  • Family history: It is suspected that there is a genetic link to glaucoma; patients with a family history of the condition are more likely to develop the disease.
  • Certain medical conditions: Medical conditions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, migraines, and sleep apnea are risk factors for glaucoma.
  • Eye problems: Eye problems such as nearsightedness, retinal detachment, eye tumors, and eye inflammation may increase the risk of glaucoma; a previous eye surgery or injury can also make patients more susceptible to the disease.
  • Excessive use of corticosteroids: The use of corticosteroid eye drops and medications can put you at greater risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Elevated intraocular pressure: If your intraocular pressure measures higher than normal, you are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma Symptoms

There are different types of glaucoma. Below are the symptoms associated with each type of glaucoma.

Open-angle Glaucoma:

  • A gradual loss of peripheral vision; generally affects both eyes
  • Tunnel vision; this symptom develops in the advanced stages of the disease

Angle-closure Glaucoma:

  • Blurry or cloudy vision
  • Severe eye pain, usually in just one eye
  • Nausea and vomiting, accompanied by eye pain
  • Onset of visual disturbance, often in low light
  • Halos around lights
  • Redness of the eye
  • Eye swelling

Congenital Glaucoma:

  • Cloudy vision
  • Enlargement of one or both eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

It is important to know that many of the symptoms associated with glaucoma do not become evident until the disease has reached its later stages. Unfortunately, at this point, patients may already suffer permanent eye damage. Undergoing regular eye exams is the best way for the disease to be detected in its early stages.

Glaucoma Testing

Dr. Schultz may perform the following tests to diagnose glaucoma.

  • Tonometry: The tonometry test measures the patient's intraocular pressure in each eye. Elevated intraocular pressure is a sign of glaucoma.
  • Optic nerve damage testing: In this test, dilating drops are applied to the eyes, and then Dr. Schultz examines the optic nerve with an ophthalmoscope to check for damaged nerve fibers.
  • Perimetry: The perimetry, or visual field test, is performed to check the patient's peripheral vision. The peripheral vision is typically the first to be affected for patients with glaucoma.
  • Pachymetry: The pachymetry test is performed to check corneal thickness. Corneal thickness is a key indicator that enables Dr. Schultz to determine how far the condition has progressed.
  • Gonioscopy: In the gonioscopy test, the drainage angle is evaluated to determine if the patient has open angle or closed angle glaucoma.
  • Tonography: The tonography measures how quickly the fluid drains from the eye.

For our patients in Cleveland, eyewear, use of medications, surgery, or a combination of these treatments can improve the condition. Dr. Schultz does not perform glaucoma surgery. However, he can refer patients to some of the area's most reputable surgeons if glaucoma surgery is your best course of treatment.

Contact Lifetime Eye Care today to schedule a consultation at our practice.

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