As we at Thomas Eye Group ring in the New Year, we’d also like to remind our patients that January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. And while most have heard of glaucoma, many don’t know that it affects nearly 2.2 million Americans, is a major cause of irreversible vision loss and is usually painless and slow-progressing, leaving affected people unaware that they have it until major damage is done to their eyesight.
The good news is, early detection and treatment can prevent vision loss. So this month, take a few minutes to learn about glaucoma and what you can do to ensure the health of your vision this year and for years to come.What you should know:
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning (up to 40 percent of vision can be lost without a person noticing).
What causes glaucoma?
For unknown reasons, the fluid that would normally flow in and out of the front of the eye to nourish nearby tissues drains too slowly out of the eye. As the fluid builds, the pressure inside the eye rises. Unless this pressure is controlled, it causes damage to the optic nerve and other parts of the eye.
Who is at higher risk for glaucoma?
Everyone aged 60 and older (especially the Latino and Asian populations), African-Americans 40 and older, people with a family history of the disease, diabetics and people who are severely nearsighted.
What can I do to find out if I have glaucoma?
The best way to diagnose glaucoma is to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years. Glaucoma can initially be asymptomatic and half of all people with the condition are unaware they have it.
How is glaucoma treated?
Early detection of glaucoma will increase the odds of keeping your vision. Treatment options include eye drops, oral medication or surgery, depending on the individual’s condition.
What happens if glaucoma goes untreated?
Without adequate treatment, glaucoma eventually affects central vision and progresses to blindness.
Research and studies on glaucoma are ongoing, but it’s still unknown how to prevent or reverse the condition. So for now, be pro-active in your approach to good eye care. Schedule an appointment today with one of our ophthalmologists to discuss how you can identify or prevent glaucoma before it’s too late.