January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month: The Sneak Thief of Sight
Making New Year’s resolutions has become an American pass time. However, some things should be so important that we don’t need a resolution. Learning about detection and prevention of glaucoma is one of those!
It is important to get educated about glaucoma, it’s risk factors, and what you can do to preserve your precious eye sight for years to come. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation¹, more than 3 million Americans currently have glaucoma; a number that is expected to increase to 4.2 million by 2030 representing a nearly 60% increase over the next 10-12 years.
More disturbing is that of the large numbers of those affected, nearly 50% are unaware they have glaucoma. Because glaucoma is painless and affects peripheral vision before central vision, it can remain undetected until severe irreversible damage to the optic nerve has occurred. Left undiagnosed and untreated, glaucoma will eventually lead to complete blindness. This is why it is known as the “sneak thief of sight”.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases. There are four main types of glaucoma.
- Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
- Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Normal Tension Glaucoma
- Other Types of Glaucoma
For the purposes of this article, we will discuss the most common form of glaucoma known as Primary Open Angle Glaucoma.
This often hereditary condition develops gradually over time without pain or symptoms. In open angle glaucoma, the eye’s ability to adequately drain fluid has become damaged. This leads to an increase in intraocular pressure (known as IOP). This increased IOP gradually causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images on the retina to the brain.
As this damage continues, the peripheral, or side vision, loss becomes central vision loss and finally, complete blindness.
Who Is At Risk For Glaucoma?
The short answer to this question is You Are! Anyone can develop glaucoma; however, there are certain groups of people who are more at risk than others.
- African Americans over the age of 40
- People over the age of 60, especially if you are Hispanic or Latino-
- If you have a family history of glaucoma you are more risk²
How Can You Protect Your Vision?
Glaucoma is not preventable and because it can go undetected with no pain, no symptoms, and no indication of it’s existence until irreversible vision loss has occurred, it is vital that you have a dilated eye exam to detect any increase in your IOP.
A comprehensive dilated eye exam is crucial for early detection and treatment of glaucoma as well as many other ocular diseases. This type of exam goes beyond the refraction necessary to get your eyeglasses prescription. It includes specialized testing to measure the intraocular pressure of the eye as well as the instillation of eye drops to dilate your pupils so that your eye doctor can fully assess the optic nerve for any damage.
While there is currently no cure of glaucoma, early detection is key to controlling the progression of the disease through medications or surgery, if necessary.
Contact Us Today!
What is more precious than your eye sight to you and your family? Since January is the month for new beginnings and new resolutions, resolve today to get your eyes examined!
The staff and doctors at Blountville Family Eyecare take your vision very seriously! A comprehensive eye health examination every year is optimal for preservation of one of your most precious gifts: Your sight! Our staff continually pursue training in the latest technology and medical knowledge in order to remain on the cutting edge of ocular disease treatment, including treatment of glaucoma. We are confident that you will find your examination with us to be thorough and comfortable. Contact us today with any questions you have about glaucoma or any of our other eye care services.
For your convenience, you can also schedule your appointment right here on our website.