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Glaucoma is a set of eye diseases that affects millions worldwide. Also known as the silent thief of the eyesight, it silently creeps up on the patient, damaging the eye and causing vision loss. Most people are unaware of the existence of glaucoma and its effects on the eye until it’s already too late.
Different myths and misconceptions surround glaucoma and the damage it causes. Debunking these myths is essential for better management of glaucoma and can help spread awareness regarding the disease and its impact. So, here you go:
A person suffering from glaucoma will eventually have complete blindness.
If you keep ignoring your symptoms, this disease may cause significant loss of sight, leading to eventual blindness.
You see, the symptoms slowly start to appear over a period, but have no physical or apparent indicators and thus, can be often misleading. Due to its silent characteristics, the extent of the damage of the disease remains undetected, unless the person visits an optometrist or an eye doctor. If caught earlier on, by using effective treatments, medications and surgeries, the effects of glaucoma can be easily controlled.
The takeaway: glaucoma does not cause blindness, ignoring and not taking appropriate measures in due time might.
Glaucoma is a silent disease that creeps up on its patients without any apparent symptoms. These symptoms only become evident once the individual visits a doctor. People with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risks of developing the disease. However, individuals without a family history of glaucoma are equally likely to develop the disease, due to varying factors.
Glaucoma is only caused by elevated intraocular pressure.
False, elevated intraocular pressure is only one of the primary reasons that may result in causing glaucoma. Some forms of glaucoma are known to show even if the eye pressure of a person is normal. Other causes include Diabetes, Ocular Hypertension, and even high blood pressure.
Glaucoma is only genetic or hereditary.
Glaucoma is not just a genetic or hereditary disease. It can be caused due to various other reasons such as elevated eye pressure. Therefore, it is not feasible to rule out the disease only because of genetics.
Glaucoma is only a disease of the elderly.
Although, the disease is more common in adults aged 40 and over, incidents of childhood glaucoma have been noted, with symptoms appearing within the first few years of birth. The disease can, therefore, affect a broad demographic of people, irrespective of age.
Lifestyle changes and healthier living do not affect the effects of the disease.
After the diagnosis of the disease, it is not possible to undo the damage. However, the adaptation of specific lifestyle changes and a positive outlook can help change the perspective of a patient, allowing them to deal with the diagnosis in a healthier manner. Several studies show that a change in lifestyle choices may help relieve some of the pressure on the optic nerve though and therefore, healthier alternatives are highly recommended.
Like other eye diseases, the symptoms of glaucoma are noticeable.
Popularly dubbed as the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma is known to silently creep up and slowly damage the eyesight of a person. The symptoms of glaucoma are not quite observable at first. So, people with perfect vision apparently may have glaucoma and yet be unaware of it. However, once the damage becomes extensive, symptoms show up eventually.
Glaucoma affects all races equally.
In the United States, the African American population is five times more likely to develop glaucoma than any other demographic group. On the other hand, people of Asian descent are more likely to suffer from angle-closure glaucoma. People of African origin or those of European descent are likely to suffer from primary open-angle glaucoma. Hispanics and people of Latin origin are also at high risks of developing glaucoma. The cause of the development of glaucoma in different ethnicities is yet unknown. However, researchers and scientists are working towards exploring as to why glaucoma affects a certain demographic more than the rest of the ethnicities.
There is only one kind of glaucoma.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, glaucoma is of various types including open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, normal tension glaucoma, congenital glaucoma, secondary glaucoma, pigmentary glaucoma, traumatic glaucoma, neovascular glaucoma, uveitic glaucoma and pseudo-exfoliative glaucoma.
Glaucoma can be treated with surgery and medication.
A disease such as glaucoma can only be prevented or treated if detected on time. Surgeries for glaucoma, treatments and medications can only help slow down the progression of the disease and its effects on the eye. However, there are no permanent solutions for glaucoma in the long run.
Low Vision aids cannot help patients of glaucoma.
Quite the opposite actually, glaucoma can be helped with conventional eyeglasses and certain low vision aids that are very helpful in fighting the disease. IrisVision provides low vision glasses for glaucoma that help people with the disease live a better life. These low vision aids come in the form of a headset and allow individuals to view their environment clearly and without any visual difficulties.
Glaucoma is a single disease.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve. Glaucoma has various types and affects each individual in a number of different ways. If detected earlier, glaucoma can be prevented.
Glaucoma treatments and testing are painful.
Glaucoma testing is entirely harmless. Depending on the patient, doctors make use of several tests to check for glaucoma in patients. Doctors can make use of perimetry, a visual field test, which checks the complete vision of an individual. Tonometry is another test used to check the inner pressure of the eye, using eye drops and the Goldmann Applanation Tonometer. Ophthalmoscopy is also employed, which makes use of eye drops for the dilation of the eye. Ophthalmoscopy helps the doctor view inside of the eye. Gonioscopy is another diagnostic test that asseses the angle between the iris and the cornea. In a Gonioscopy, a doctor tests the angle by numbing the eye of the patient using eye drops. A contact lens with mirrors is placed in the eye, which allows the doctor to view the angle. Pachymetry is also employed, which measures the thickness of the cornea of the eye, with the aid of a probe.
Using marijuana can treat glaucoma.
The consumption of medical marijuana for the treatment of glaucoma is an inadequate and unpractical approach. No known studies or searches have contributed to justifying that marijuana helps patients of glaucoma in any way. However, smoking cannabis has been noted to decrease the intraocular pressure on the optic nerve somewhat,but the pressure on the optic nerve needs to be controlled 24/7, and thus, marijuana or any other drug that lowers the eye pressure for a brief moment, is an ineffective method for dealing with the condition.
Yoga and exercises can help relieve some of the pressure of glaucoma off the optic nerve.
Exercises such as aerobics and yoga have proven to be useful for reducing some of the pressure on the eye, but they are not to be used as a remedy or treatment for glaucoma. However, some exercises should be avoided at all costs, as they may increase the intraocular pressure on the optic nerve. Fast, light eye exercises, including framing, and alternating between different directions, can help strengthen the muscles of the eye. Yoga poses such as Forward Fold Pose, the Hero Pose, and the Tratakkriya are useful for reducing the pressure on the optic nerve. On the other hand, inverted yoga positions increase the pressure on the optic nerve and may result in further damage to the eye. Pushups and heavyweight exercises should also be avoided. Therefore, before you opt for any exercise routine, it is highly advised you consult your eye doctor.
These are some of the common misconceptions and myths about glaucoma. Read these, spread awareness and stay more informed, so you can take better and on-time decisions to fight this chronic disease.