Common Myth About Glaucoma

Did you know that according to the World Glaucoma Association, Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness globally? Yes, It is. Moreover, 50% of affected persons in the developed countries are not even aware of having Glaucoma. As a result, they miss out on diagnosis and treatment that could save their vision.

Some Common Myths About Glaucoma are believed by us !

No worries! We have listed down some Myths vs Facts about Glaucoma for you below so you can become more aware of these vicious diseases.

Glaucoma Facts vs. Myths

Common Myth About Glaucoma

MYTH 1: Glaucoma is one single disease

Fact: Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes progressive damage of the optic nerve where it can not communicate with the brain anymore. There are many sorts of Glaucoma, the most common being Open-Angle Glaucoma (OAG) and Angle-Closure Glaucoma (ACG). 

In Open-Angle Glaucoma, the eye’s drainage canals (called the trabecular meshwork) get clogged and don’t allow the fluid inside the eye to flow out as it should, causing an increasing internal ocular pressure that damages the optic nerve. OAG develops slowly with not many warning signs; by the time people perceive symptoms, such as peripheral vision loss, their optic nerve is already damaged. 

In Angle-Closure Glaucoma, the angle between the eye’s iris and cornea becomes too narrow or closed in many cases, causing increased pressure. The pressure damages the optic nerve which results in vision loss. ACG can occur suddenly or gradually with symptoms such as blurry or hazy vision, seeing rainbow-colored circles around lights like halos, eye pain, etc

MYTH 2: Glaucoma only affects the elderly or people above 60.

Fact: Although people over 60 are at greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma, the fact is, Glaucoma can affect people of all ages including newborns.

For example, newborns can have congenital glaucoma, whereas other children can have other eye diseases that lead to secondary glaucoma. Also, People between ages 20 and 50 can have pigmentary glaucoma. 

According to World Glaucoma Association, some of the factors that cause Glaucoma besides being old are:

  • Intraocular pressure is considered a “Risk Factor” for glaucoma
  • Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is common in patients of Caucasian and African ancestry, whereas,  Angle-Closure Glaucoma (ACG) is more common in  Asian ancestry patients.
  • People with previous eye injuries are at risk of glaucoma.
  • Patients who have diabetes, or sickle cell anemia.
  • Patients taking steroid medications for a long period.

MYTH 3: Glaucoma shows early symptoms

Fact: The most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, shows virtually no signs or symptoms, unlike most other diseases. In fact, though OAG is caused by increased eye pressure it actually causes no pain. Moreover, Glaucoma vision loss begins with a peripheral or side vision, so you will most likely not realize vision loss until your vision has become significantly impaired. So, only a proper eye test can detect Glaucoma in the early stage.

MYTH 4: Nothing can be done once you have Glaucoma

Fact: Although there is no cure for Glaucoma as yet to reverse your vision loss, there are eye drop medications, oral medicines, and surgery (traditional or laser) available that can slow-down any further vision loss. These treatments help to flow the fluid properly out of the eye, reducing pressure and lowering damage to the optic nerve that preserves your vision.

MYTH 5: Testing for Glaucoma is painful

Fact: There are several types of tests to detect Glaucoma but none of them are painful. In the air puff test, a machine blows a warm puff of air into each eye of the patient to test the intraocular pressure. Though The test startles some patients, it’s over in one second and there is no pain. With the Goldman applanation tonometry test, patients receive an anesthetic eye drop into each eye which may result in a stinging sensation for a couple of seconds but it doesn’t hurt. After that, doctors use blue light to quickly and gently touch the cornea to precisely measure intraocular pressure. Most accurate tests such as visual field testing and OCT (optical coherence tomography), non-invasive imaging are also absolutely painless.

MYTH 6: If you have 20/20 vision, you won’t develop Glaucoma.

Fact: Glaucoma is called a “silent thief of sight” for a reason. You can have 20/20 vision and still develop Glaucoma as it shows no early signs. Only in the United States, more than 120,000 people are blind from Glaucoma which accounts for 9% to 12% of all blindness. More than 3 million Americans have Glaucoma but only about half know they have it. So even if you have 20/20 vision you should check with your eye doctors for Glaucoma once a year.

MYTH 7: Glaucoma is inherited, If your family don’t have glaucoma, you won’t have Glaucoma

Fact: While inheritance is a risk factor when it comes to glaucoma, there are many patients who are the only members of their families diagnosed with Glaucoma. In fact, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests, all adults with or without any signs of eye disease or risk factors should have a dilated eye examination at age 40. So, there is no reason to think you are immune to Glaucoma just because none of your family members have it.

MYTH 8: Glaucoma affects only one eye.

Fact: Glaucoma occurs in both eyes, but pressure often starts with one eye. The pressure usually increases in one eye first, causing a peripheral vision loss which is hard to notice. But it will most likely occur in another eye as well if not diagnosed and treated in time.

MYTH 9: You can not  prevent Glaucoma

Fact: You can prevent Glaucoma by examining your eye regularly since there are no early signs. According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, at age 40, every patient should take a Glaucoma exam every four years and every two years if you are over 65 and have one of the high-risk factors.

Now that you know all the facts and myths about Glaucoma, you know there is no alternative to detect Glaucoma at an early stage in order to prevent vision loss. So make sure to make an appointment with your eye doctor.