So, You Have Glaucoma: Answers To Common Questions About Your Newly Diagnosed Condition

Has your eye doctor recently diagnosed you with glaucoma? Amid the shock of finding out you have a chronic eye condition, it can be hard to think of the right questions to ask when you're first diagnosed. Here's a look at a few common questions people have when first diagnosed with glaucoma, along with their answers.

What caused your glaucoma to develop?

Many of the risk factors for glaucoma are non-controllable. Some people are just genetically pre-disposed to the condition. African Americans, people over the age of 40, and those with a family history of the disease are more likely to develop it than others, no matter what they do. However, an unhealthy lifestyle that results in sustained high blood pressure can increase the risk of glaucoma. If you've had high blood pressure for a long time, there's a good chance that condition contributed to the development of this condition – but it's not wise to blame yourself, since there's no way to be sure.

How much worse will the condition get?

Left untreated, glaucoma will get worse and worse until your vision disappears completely. However, there are treatments that will prevent the disease from progressing or at least slow its progression. Your eye doctor likely prescribed you either eye drops or an oral medication for your glaucoma. Taking or using this medication as directed should keep your vision intact.

Will surgery be required?

Some patients whose glaucoma is allowed to progress to a severe stage before they seek treatment and some who don't respond well to medication may be candidates for a specialized surgical procedure. In this procedure, a small hole is made to drain fluid from the interior of the eye, lowering the high eye pressure that's the hallmark feature of glaucoma. This is not a cure, but like medications, it does keep symptoms under control. Your eye doctor will tell you if you're a candidate for the surgery, which is generally not performed unless other treatment options have proven ineffective.

Are there any lifestyle changes you should make to help manage your glaucoma?

The same lifestyle changes used to manage high blood pressure can help manage the high eye pressure associated with glaucoma, which will help prevent it from becoming worse. These changes include getting more exercise, eating a healthy, low-salt diet, and keeping your stress levels to a minimum.

If you have any other unanswered questions, don't hesitate to call your eye doctor. He or she should be your go-to source for information as you learn to live with and manage this eye condition.

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