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Is glaucoma a serious eye condition?

GlaucomaGlaucomaGlaucoma is a group of eye conditions that is characterized by abnormally high eye pressure, which eventually leads to optic nerve damage.

Asian Eye Institute glaucoma specialist Dr. Imelda Yap- Veloso explains: “The eye has a ‘drainage system’ that allows fluid to exit the eye. When this drainage is blocked, pressure in the eye builds up, causing damage to the optic nerve.”

Dubbed as the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma has no warning signs until damage has been done. In some acute forms of glaucoma, patients may experience severe headaches, eye pain, eye redness, nausea and vomiting, blurry vision and haloes around lights.

“What’s alarming is that glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness. It usually starts with blind spots in your side (peripheral) vision and, as larger areas of your side vision fade, you may develop tunnel vision. If left untreated, it can lead to complete blindness. However, treatments such as eyedrops, oral medications and surgeries are options used to lower the eye pressure and control the glaucoma, helping preserve the remaining vision,” says Dr. Veloso.

While no one can really prevent glaucoma in primary cases, Dr. Veloso emphasizes that detecting it early can limit vision loss or slow its progression.

“Glaucoma can occur at any age. Visit your ophthalmologist every year for a complete eye checkup, especially if you are age 40 and up and have used steroids for a certain period of time. It is also important to know your family’s eye health history because if your family member develops it, chances are you may develop it too.

“Lastly, you can also develop glaucoma from having serious eye injuries, so it helps to wear eye protection like goggles or safety glasses when playing sports or working with chemicals or in a construction area,” she adds.

Asian Eye offers glaucoma screening to detect and prevent the development of glaucoma. Asian Eye Family Vision Center in particular offers EyeScan, a prescreening service that can tell if you are showing signs of a possible eye disease. For more info, call 898-2020. (Story/Photos by: Charizze Henson)