The Link Between Age and Glaucoma: What to Watch For

There are several different types of glaucoma, but no matter which one you’re diagnosed with, your vision is in danger. Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness across the country today, and it mostly affects people older than 40. The experienced providers at Cooper Eye Care in New York want to help you with this or other optical conditions. 

The mechanics of glaucoma

The nerve that connects your eye to your brain is called the optic nerve — it’s actually a bundle of more than a million nerves — and glaucoma damages that nerve and eventually causes vision loss. 

The types of glaucoma

Experts have identified four main types of glaucoma: 

  1. Primary open-angle glaucoma
  2. Angle-closure glaucoma
  3. Secondary glaucoma
  4. Normal-tension or low-tension glaucoma

The most common form of the disease is primary open-angle glaucoma. It develops slowly and is painless. It’s possible to lose a large portion of your vision before you realize anything is wrong. In primary open-angle glaucoma, fluid builds up in your eye and causes damage to your optic nerve. 

Less common, angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the drainage in the eye closes or gets blocked completely and causes a sudden buildup of pressure in your eye. Angle-closure glaucoma can develop slowly, or it can be sudden and a medical emergency. 

Secondary glaucoma is a result of injury or of some underlying disease. It can be caused by medications, abnormalities, or, more rarely, it may result from surgery. Normal-tension glaucoma is something of a mystery; the pressure in your eye remains normal but there’s still damage to the optic nerve. 

What raises your risk of glaucoma?

There are certain factors that make it more likely you’ll develop glaucoma. The first is age. It’s far more likely you’ll get glaucoma if you’re 60 years old or older. If you’re African American, your risk begins to increase after the age of 40. Your risk rises a little with each additional year. 

If you’re African American, not only does your risk of glaucoma begin to rise at an earlier age, your risk, in general, is higher than that of white people. Other groups are more likely to develop the rarer types of glaucoma. For instance, people of Japanese descent have a higher risk of normal-tension glaucoma, and people of Asian descent or those who have Native Alaskan heritage have a higher risk of angle-closure glaucoma. 

Having a family history of glaucoma is also a significant risk factor. Medical conditions and eye injuries also make it more likely you’ll develop the condition. Finally, if you have used corticosteroids for an extended period of time, you have a higher chance of developing glaucoma. 

How to protect yourself

Because glaucoma can develop without symptoms or pain, if you have any of the risk factors above, it’s critical for you to get regular eye exams. The doctors at Cooper Eye Care are experienced in recognizing, diagnosing, and treating all four types of glaucoma. They are glad to answer your questions and help you understand your risk.

If you’d like to learn more about glaucoma, and your risk factors, book an appointment with one of the providers at Cooper Eye Care Center. We have two locations for your convenience, and you can schedule online at either, or you’re welcome to give us a call and we’ll get you booked. 

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