Glaucoma Myths: Everything You Need to Know

A senior man holds his glasses and rubs his eye

If you have symptoms of glaucoma or were recently diagnosed, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed or confused. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the condition that make it difficult to find the right treatments.

At Florida Eye Specialists, we are committed to keeping our patients informed on their eye health. Here, we debunk common myths about causes, symptoms and treatment so you can better protect your vision.

Myth #1: Glaucoma can be cured.

The condition cannot be cured, but it can be treated to minimize pain and symptoms. Some of the most common treatment methods include glaucoma eye drops, oral pills, laser treatment and minimally invasive surgical procedures.

Procedures such as minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS), trabeculectomies, and implant surgery are common solutions when eye drops and laser treatment for glaucoma are not effective. These surgical procedures work to stop the condition from worsening and prevent permanent vision loss.

Myth #2: Glaucoma is hereditary.

The condition is not always hereditary — many patients are diagnosed without a family history. However, even though anyone can develop the disease, individuals with a family history of certain types of glaucoma are at much higher risk.

Other risk factors include age, race, hypertension and medical conditions such as diabetes, migraines, or sickle cell anemia. If you have a known family history of glaucoma, schedule regular eye exams to catch the condition early and begin treatment.

Myth #3: You can’t have cataracts if you have glaucoma.

Glaucoma and cataracts are two different diseases that are often unrelated. Therefore, it is possible to suffer from both conditions simultaneously. The two eye diseases are often discovered at the same time.

Luckily, they can also be treated at the same time to prevent damage or permanent vision loss. It is important to speak to your ophthalmologist to determine if combined surgeries or overlapped treatments are right for you.

Myth #4: Glaucoma tests are painful.

Testing is noninvasive, fast and painless. There are multiple easy ways to test for the condition. If you’re experiencing early signs of glaucoma, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to determine the right testing method for you.

Air puff tests measure intraocular pressure with a device that blows a warm puff of air into each of your eyes. The Goldmann applanation tonometer (GAT) test requires anesthetic eye drops, a slit lamp, and a gentle probe that briefly touches your cornea to measure your eye pressure. Both methods are pain-free and quick.

Myth #5: Glaucoma symptoms are noticeable.

Symptoms of the condition are rarely noticeable, and sometimes don’t show up at all. Over half of individuals with glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease. Vision loss typically begins with side or peripheral vision, thus many patients do not realize that their vision is impaired.

A majority of symptoms develop gradually, and vision changes often go unnoticed until the condition has progressed. An eye exam performed by a certified eye doctor is the only way to guarantee a diagnosis.

Myth #6: Eye drops can be used to fix glaucoma.

Eye drops cannot cure the disease, but they can help treat glaucoma. Drops are used to help with draining and minimizing fluid. Eye drops are the most common treatment for the condition and help lower pressure in the eye to minimize optic nerve damage.

Unfortunately, eye drops are not able to restore your vision or reverse damage to the optic nerve. It is important to schedule regular eye exams to begin treatment in the earliest stages of the disease to prevent irreversible damage or vision loss.

Myth #7: High blood pressure causes glaucoma.

High blood pressure is not a proven cause of the condition. In fact, there are many risks associated with low blood pressure and glaucoma. As eye pressure increases in individuals with low blood pressure, damage to the optic nerve may occur.

However, severely high blood pressure can also lead to an increase in eye pressure. That’s why it is important to monitor your eye health if you suffer from hypertension. Both high and low blood pressure can increase the risk of glaucoma, and it is important to keep your eye doctor informed of these medical conditions.

Glaucoma Specialist Near Me

Glaucoma is a severe eye condition that can lead to permanent eye damage or vision loss if left untreated. Luckily, many treatment options are available to minimize symptoms and prevent the disease from worsening. Schedule an appointment with the glaucoma specialists at Florida Eye Specialists for testing or treatment today.