Early-Onset Glaucoma and Receiving Social Security Disability

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Early-Onset Glaucoma and Receiving Social Security Disability

Glaucoma has the nickname “sneak thief of sight” because the loss of your visual field often takes place gradually over a long period of time and may only be discovered when it is already well advanced. In fact, as many as half of the people with glaucoma are not aware that they have this disorder.

Glaucoma is a major problem all over the world. Worldwide, glaucoma is the number one cause of irreversible blindness. In fact, as many as 6 million individuals are blind in both eyes because of this disorder. In the United States alone, it is estimated that over 3 million people have glaucoma.

Glaucoma occurs most often in older adults. The risk of older adults developing glaucoma can be affected by several different medical conditions. These include family history, hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes mellitus.

When an individual develops glaucoma before the age of 40, it is referred to as early-onset glaucoma. The risk of getting early-onset glaucoma is primarily determined by heredity.

There are different forms of early-onset glaucoma. These include primary congenital glaucoma and juvenile open-angle glaucoma.

Early-onset glaucoma occurs most often as a result of inheriting a defective (mutated) gene from your parents. Depending on the type of early-onset glaucoma that you have, you may inherit the possibility of developing this disorder in either an autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive pattern. If you get the defective gene from one of your parents, it is autosomal dominant. It is autosomal recessive if your get the mutated gene from both of your parents.

Although early-onset glaucoma is usually due to inheriting a defective gene from your parents, for reasons that doctors do not totally understand, intraocular pressure (increased pressure within your eye) is what is associated with the damage to your optic nerve that marks early-onset glaucoma. You could think of it in this way. The defective gene is what causes the increased pressure to take place in your eye. The increased pressure is what actually damages your optic nerve resulting in early-onset glaucoma.

There are several signs and symptoms that you may have with early-onset glaucoma. Some of these are:

  • Excessive tearing
  • Abnormal sensitivity to light
  • Eventual blindness
  • Reduction in peripheral (side) vision
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