How fast does glaucoma progress? Generally speaking, if left untreated, common types of glaucoma can result in blindness in around 10-15 years.
How long it will take to go blind from glaucoma depends on multiple factors such as:
- The type of glaucoma – open angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma and normal pressure glaucoma for example can take several years to cause complete blindness while secondary glaucoma, neovascular glaucoma and phacomorphic glaucoma may result into total blindness in a matter of weeks to months. In short, chronic types of glaucoma take several years to cause blindness and acute types of glaucoma take very short periods to result into blindness.
- Whether or not glaucoma is being treated. The most common cause of lack of treatment is the fact that most types of glaucoma go undetected. Therefore, even if you don’t have any eye problem, you should still get an eye examination done especially after the age of 40 years. If you already have glaucoma, it’s essential for your ophthalmologist or eye care professional to continually monitor it.
- Coexisting general conditions life diabetes and high blood pressure affect progression of glaucoma. Those who have these conditions, are likely to go blind from glaucoma more rapidly than those who don’t have the above conditions.
- Coexisting eye diseases may also worsen glaucoma. Any inflammation, vascular occlusion or surgery of the eye may change increase the progression of glaucoma.
- Age is another factor. Older age is a risk factor. So if a 40 year old is diagnosed with glaucoma, he or she will not experience progression of glaucoma as fast as a 60 year old for example.
- Being African American is an additional important risk factor.
- If any of your parents have glaucoma, you should be even more careful and get your eye examination done after the age of 20 years.
Glaucoma is a progressive ocular neuropathy that is one of the main causes of blindness. It is usually associated with the build-up of fluid pressure inside the eye. Among various types of glaucoma open-angle glaucoma contributes the most. While there is no known method to stop glaucoma completely, eye damage brought on by glaucoma can be avoided through early detection.
If glaucoma is detected it is treated with medication – usually eye drops, lifestyle changes, supplements, laser or with surgery. Even after laser or surgical treatment, the patient may have to be on eye drops lifelong to prevent progression of glaucoma.
People with glaucoma must have regular eye examinations. Their eye pressures should be monitored on every visit to the doctor and treatments should be modified it needed. The aim of the treatment is to maintain and conserve whatever vision is left at the time of diagnosis of glaucoma.
Being diagnosed early in the duration of the disease can be useful. Early diagnosis enhances the odds of preserving sight through treatment that may slow or stop vision loss and maintain useful vision for a long time.
Photo by National Eye Institute