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California Area Office logoCalifornia Area Office

What is Glaucoma?

Image of Margo Kerrigan

Margo Kerrigan, M.P.H., Area Director
Indian Health Service California Area Office

 

Glaucoma is an eye disease that occurs when pressure inside the eye increases. The increase in eye pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve. There are six different types of glaucoma but this article will discuss the two most common types which are open angle and closed angle or sometimes called acute glaucoma.

The most common type is open angle glaucoma which usually occurs later in life or after 40 years of age. Closed angle glaucoma occurs less frequently and accounts for about 10 percent of all glaucoma in the United States. Retrieved from health.msn.com Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

Who is at risk for developing Glaucoma?

  • Women and people who are farsighted
  • People with diabetes which increases the risk two fold
  • People over the age of 60
  • People with a family history of glaucoma
  • People with high blood pressure
  • Native Americans

What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?

  • Open angle glaucoma usually no systems are present in the early stages and often people do not know they have glaucoma. As the disease progresses in can cause a loss of vision in the peripheral side.
  • Closed angle glaucoma usually symptoms develop quickly and cause eye pain or a severe headache behind the eyes or one can experience nausea and vomiting. If left untreated this can cause blindness within 24 hours. Retrieved from www.Advancedeyecare.com Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

What are the treatment options?

  • Prevention, Prevention and Prevention
  • Early diagnosis by seeing an ophthalmologist yearly or at least every two years and dilating the eyes.
  • Open angle glaucoma can be treated with eye drops or surgery.
  • Closed angle glaucoma usually requires surgery to allow the fluid to flow more freely. Retrieved from www.healthtree.com Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov

    There is no cure for glaucoma once the eye disease is diagnosed but early diagnosis is the number one treatment option. Being Native American increases the risk of developing glaucoma and being a woman increases this by three fold. Visit your eye doctor on a regular basis and be sure to verify that he/she checks the eye pressure in both eyes. The National Eye Institute recommends that people with diabetes have a dilated eye exam performed at least once a year. Retrieved from www.glaucoma.org Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov
     

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