Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide and does not always have symptoms. While there are several different subtypes of glaucoma, the bottom line is that people with the illness are experiencing an abnormally high amount of eye pressure that is destroying their optic nerve. In most cases, glaucoma affects both eyes though it is possible to have the disease in one eye and not the other.
Since glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans, people of African American or Hispanic descent should be especially mindful of unusual eye symptoms. An estimated 10 percent of people of any race who are over the age of 80 have glaucoma and about 1 percent of the general population has glaucoma. Approximately 50 percent of the people afflicted with this preventable eye illness do not know they have it.
Symptoms that may indicate glaucoma or another serious eye disease include the following:
Regular eye exams, even for people who do not need glasses or contacts, is a major step toward preventing vision loss. Doctors can prevent future vision loss through medication or surgery, but cannot reverse past vision loss caused by glaucoma. Most people should have eye exams at least once every two years, though people with existing vision problems or a family history of glaucoma need an annual eye exam.