Having a yearly physical or dental cleaning may be a normal part of your life, but what about eye exams? Unless you wear glasses, you may not regularly visit an optometrist. However, scheduling an eye exam can be instrumental in detecting eye problems such as glaucoma, which can cause vision loss or total blindness.
Drs. Lan O'Donnell and Heidi Gonzalez frequently diagnose and treat glaucoma at O'Donnell Eye Institute in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, and they want to make sure their patients are aware of the warning signs of glaucoma. Although there are several types, this article will concentrate on the two main classifications: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).
Behind both of your eyes is an optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain for processing. Glaucoma causes pressure to build up behind the eyes and damages the optic nerve. Anyone is at risk for developing glaucoma, although people over age 60 and those with a family history are more susceptible. The causes of glaucoma are largely unknown.
Changes in the way you see often accompany ACG. Many of our patients at O'Donnell Eye Institute report a new haziness or blurriness. When looking at bright lights, some people notice rainbow-like halos around them. A few people will have a sudden loss of sight. The visual disturbances with POAG are more subtle and can affect the peripheral, or sides, of your visual field. Although these symptoms can be indicative of other conditions, any unexplained changes in your vision should be evaluated by your Santa Rosa Beach eye doctor at once.
Because of the pressure that has to build up behind the eyes, those with glaucoma may experience a new and very uncomfortable headache or eye pain. It can even cause nausea or vomiting due to a response called the oculoabdominal reflex.
The idea that you are developing irreversible damage to your eyes without your knowledge is a scary one, but this can be a reality for those with POAG. By the time POAG begins to noticeably affect vision, it is often advanced and has caused significant damage to the optic nerve. The good news is that by scheduling yearly eye exams with your Santa Rosa Beach optometrist, both types of glaucoma can be detected and treated in their early stages.
To schedule a glaucoma evaluation with Dr. Lan O'Donnell or Dr. Heidi Gonzalez, contact O'Donnell Eye Institute in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, by calling (850) 622-4000 today!