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6 Common Myths About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease in which increased pressure causes progressive, permanent vision loss and even blindness. Unfortunately, many misconceptions about the disease can leave you misinformed. Below we sort fact from fiction by debunking 6 of the most common glaucoma myths.

Glaucoma Facts vs. Myths

MYTH 1: Glaucoma is a single disease

FACT 

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases; the most common ones are open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG). 

In open-angle glaucoma, the drainage structure in your eye (called the trabecular meshwork) doesn’t allow the fluid inside the eye to flow out as it should, causing an increase in internal ocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. OAG develops slowly, and usually by the time people perceive symptoms, such as peripheral vision loss, they already have optic nerve damage. 

In angle-closure glaucoma, the eye doesn’t drain fluid as it should because the drainage channel between your iris and cornea becomes too narrow, causing increased eye pressure. This pressure damages the optic nerve, leading to vision loss. ACG can occur suddenly or gradually.

MYTH 2: Only the elderly suffer from glaucoma

FACT

Although it’s true that people over 60 are at a greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma compared to people in their 40s, there are other types of glaucoma that can affect people aged 20 to 50 and even young infants (due to abnormal ocular development). 

In addition to age, those with a higher risk of developing glaucoma include:

  • African Americans and Hispanics 
  • Individuals with a family history of glaucoma 
  • Patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia
  • Those who have previously sustained an eye injury
  • People taking steroid medications over the long term

MYTH 3: Glaucoma shows symptoms early on

FACT

The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, shows virtually no signs or symptoms until its later stages when vision loss sets in. Despite what people may think, the increased eye pressure causes no pain. And since peripheral vision is the first to go, you may not recognize vision loss until your vision has become significantly impaired. The only way to detect glaucoma is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam. 

MYTH 4: Nothing can be done once you have glaucoma

FACT 

While there’s currently no cure for glaucoma, many effective treatment options exist: eye drops, oral medications, as well as laser and surgical procedures that can help slow glaucoma progression. Each treatment option is used to get the fluid to flow properly out of the eye, reducing pressure inside the eye and decreasing damage to the optic nerve.

MYTH 5: Testing for glaucoma is painful

FACT 

Actually, testing for glaucoma is practically painless. One of the tests includes a non-contact device that blows a gentle puff of air into each eye to test the intraocular pressure. The sound of the puff may be startling, but it’s over in a second and is painless. With the Goldmann applanation tonometry test, an anesthetic eye drop is inserted into each eye, which may cause a stinging sensation for a few seconds. Your eye doctor will then use a blue light to quickly and gently touch the cornea to precisely measure intraocular pressure. The most accurate of all, however, are visual field testing and OCT (optical coherence tomography), non-invasive imaging, both of which are also painless.

MYTH 6: You can’t prevent glaucoma

FACT 

Regular eye exams are the only way to prevent glaucoma, as blindness or significant vision loss can be prevented if the disease is diagnosed and treated in the early stages. That’s why routine comprehensive eye exams which include glaucoma testing are so important.

Getting your eyes checked regularly can ensure that any existing eye problems are detected early enough to prevent or slow ocular damage. Contact Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center in Tupelo to book your comprehensive eye exam today!

3 Ways Diabetes Can Affect Your Vision and Eyes

Did you know that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to get eye diseases than those without it? There are three major eye conditions that diabetics are at risk for developing: cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. To prevent these sight-threatening diseases, it’s important to control your blood sugar level and have your eyes checked at least once a year by an eye doctor. 

But First, What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease that is associated with high blood glucose levels. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, helps our cells get energy from the sugars we eat. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t produce or respond to insulin effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood stream instead. Over time, diabetes can lead to potentially irreversible ocular damage and poor eyesight. However, by taking care of your blood sugar levels and your eyes, you can prevent vision loss.

Annual eye exams are recommended for everyone, but routine screenings are even more important for diabetics. Eye doctors may send diabetic eye health reports to a patient’s primary care physician or internist to adjust medication as needed to prevent complications.

What’s the Link Between Vision and Diabetes? 

Blurred vision or fluctuating eyesight clarity is often one of the first noticeable signs that diabetes has begun to affect your eyes. Sometimes, fluid leaking into the eye causes the lens to swell and change shape. This, in turn, makes it difficult for the eyes to focus, resulting in fuzzy vision. Such symptoms can indicate that an eye disease is developing, or may simply be due to imbalanced blood sugar levels which can be rectified by getting your blood sugar back to healthy levels. 

If you start to notice blurry vision, make an appointment to see one our eye doctors as soon as possible.

The 3 Ways Diabetes Impacts Vision 

Cataracts

While cataracts are extremely common and a part of the natural aging process, those with diabetes tend to develop cataracts earlier in life. Characterized by a clouding or fogging of the lens within the eye, cataracts impede light from entering the eye, causing blurred vision and glares. The best treatment is cataract surgery, which is very safe and effective. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases characterized by optic nerve damage. Since it tends to impact peripheral vision first, glaucoma often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred. However, routine glaucoma screenings can detect warning signs; early treatment can prevent disease progression and vision loss. 

Although there is no true cure for glaucoma, most glaucoma patients successfully manage it with special eye drops, medication, and on occasion, laser treatment or other surgery. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, the better the outcome.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels on your retina (capillaries) become weakened and then balloon (microaneurysm) due to poorly controlled blood sugar levels. The resulting poor blood circulation in the back of the eye causes more abnormal blood vessels to grow, which also bleed or leak fluid, and can lead to scar tissue, retinal detachment and even blindness, over time.

Often there are no symptoms until the advanced stages of diabetic retinopathy, where patients may begin to see spots and missing patches in their vision. Retinopathy can be treated through surgery and eye injections, but the best way to prevent this disease from progressing is to regularly have your eyes screened.

The good news is that diabetic eye disease can often be prevented with early detection, proper management of your diabetes and regular diabetic eye exams. Contact Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center in Tupelo to set up your eye doctor’s appointment today. 

Who is affected by Glaucoma ?

Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center eye care Tupelo,Mississippi

We Provide Advanced Eye Care for Glaucoma

Glaucoma describes a type of ocular disease that causes damage to your optic nerve and destroys your quality of vision. At Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center, we use the latest eye care technology to check your eyes carefully for glaucoma.

Glaucoma screenings are done with the help of a tonometer, is a significant part of our regular, comprehensive eye exams in Tupelo, Mississippi.

With no early symptoms, glaucoma can only be detected by a complete eye examination. When left untreated, glaucoma can result in detrimental vision loss. When treated early by one of our professional, knowledgeable eye doctors, we can help preserve your healthy eyesight.

What is glaucoma?

The characteristic sign of glaucoma is increased pressure in your inner eye, and this is what tonometry measures. In order to maintain the spherical form of your eyeball and its ability to provide sight, the proper amount of internal fluid must be present. With glaucoma, a proper balance between the inner eye fluid and the fluid that drains out isn’t preserved. This results in eye pressure levels that are dangerously high and not conducive to sharp vision.

What happens as glaucoma progresses?

The longer you have untreated glaucoma, the higher the risk of damage to your optic nerve. An injured optic nerve cannot convey accurate visual images to the brain. Signs of glaucoma are usually experienced only when the optic nerve has already been damaged. That’s why it’s important to come into our Tupelo office for regular eye exams, (before you sense any symptoms!) by a qualified professional.

Over time, vision loss or total, irreversible blindness is the result. In America, untreated glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness among adults over age 40.

Who is at a greater risk for glaucoma?

    The following risk factors increase your chances of developing glaucoma:

  • Above 60 years of age
  • Diabetes of any type – particularly when uncontrolled
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • A member of the Mexican American population

How is glaucoma treated?

A variety of glaucoma treatments are available, depending upon your particular case. Therapies aim to lower eye pressure and stabilize it at a healthy level that will not lead to any damage of the optic nerve.

Possible medical approaches include:

  • Medicated eye drops to control the disease: note that the success of these eye drops depends heavily upon patient compliance with inserting them regularly, as directed by your eye doctor. Carelessness and failure to use eye drops properly is the primary reason for unsuccessful glaucoma treatment!
  • Laser surgery or Conventional (bladed) surgery: these procedures work to lower the natural production of inner eye fluid and/or to increase natural fluid drainage. Inner eye pressure is thereby reduced.

There are some forms of glaucoma that may cause sudden blurriness of vision, halos around lights, nausea or vomiting, or intense pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s advised to contact our eye doctors immediately, or head to your nearby Tupelo County emergency room. We look forward to taking a look at your eyes and preserving your crisp, healthy vision!

Call Wesson and Mothershed Eye Center on (662) 269-0996 in Tupelo, Mississippi to schedule an eye exam.

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