Can You Develop Glaucoma at Any Age?

Posted by: Missouri Eye Institute in Blog on July 6, 2023

Many eye conditions can threaten your sight, but not many can quietly take your vision, like glaucoma. Glaucoma develops gradually, slowly diminishing your peripheral vision.

This means if you develop glaucoma, you could lose a large portion of your sight before you even realize something is wrong. Glaucoma is most often present in older adults.

Keep reading to learn more about glaucoma, including whether or not you can develop glaucoma at any age!

What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that targets the part of the eye that sends information to the brain, the optic nerve. The optic nerve plays a vital role in healthy vision.

Because of this, your vision is directly affected when it is damaged. Your eye naturally produces a fluid called aqueous humor.

Typically, the fluids in your eye cycle through to make room for new fluid to enter. When the meshwork that filters out the fluid becomes clogged, your eye does not stop making fluid. 

When there is too much fluid in the eye, it can cause a rise in eye pressure. You won’t feel a slow rise in your internal eye pressure. 

However, it is this high pressure that often damages the optic nerve, leading to glaucoma. The best way to find out if you have glaucoma before it does permanent damage is to have routine eye exams.

Early detection is vital for preserving vision and slowing the progression of the condition. Although glaucoma typically is related to age, anyone of any age can develop glaucoma.

How Does Glaucoma Affect Children?

In some cases, babies are born with glaucoma. This is called congenital glaucoma. 

It is rare but very serious. In congenital glaucoma, the drainage system inside the eye doesn’t work properly, leading to higher-than-average eye pressure. 

It is very important to keep a close watch on children’s vision. Without a rapid diagnosis and treatment plan, even small changes in their vision can have lasting effects. 

Watch for things like sensitivity to light, watery eyes, or corneas that appear to be swollen or cloudy. 

Why Does Glaucoma Develop in Young Adults Sometimes?

Even if glaucoma is not present at birth, it can still develop in young adults and middle-aged adults. Young adults are less at risk, but a family history of glaucoma can increase their chances. 

Other medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also have a negative effect. Young adults typically need fewer checkups than children or mature adults, but it’s still important that they see their eye doctor regularly. 

Glaucoma is most common in adults over the age of forty. 

How Is Glaucoma Tested For And Treated?

The good news is that glaucoma can be managed with the correct treatment plan. First, it has to be diagnosed.

Your eye doctor will perform a variety of tests in order to determine if you may have glaucoma. An eye pressure test, called tonometry, can tell your eye doctor if your eye pressure is out of the typical healthy range.

Depending on the severity of the condition, prescription eye drops are the typical first line of defense against glaucoma. These drops must be used regularly and on time in order to be effective.

If eye drops do not adequately lower the eye pressure, other treatment methods, such as laser procedures or glaucoma surgery, may be necessary.

Do you want to learn more about how you can protect your vision from glaucoma and other eye conditions? Schedule an appointment at Missouri Eye Institute in Branson, MO, today.  


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