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Don’t Be Blindsided by Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that can cause blindness. It damages the optic nerve, which carries information from your eyes to the visual center in your brain. This kind of damage can lead to permanent vision loss. For National Glaucoma Awareness Month, we want to help educate people about the disease and how to help prevent it.
In the United States alone, there are more than 3 million people who been affected by glaucoma. This disease is especially dangerous because there are no noticeable symptoms or early warning signs to look for. Vision loss from glaucoma usually affects peripheral vision first, then later affects your overall central vision that is needed for seeing objects and performing daily tasks like reading and driving. This is why it is extremely important to learn about what glaucoma is and make yourself aware of the effects.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreparable blindness. It is a condition that damages your eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and even blindness.
Are there different types of glaucoma?
There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma. POAG, the most common type, is when the eye’s drainage canals become blocked and the fluid accumulation causes pressure to build within the eye. Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as narrow-angle glaucoma, is caused by blocked drainage canals in the eye.
Other types of glaucoma include normal tension glaucoma and secondary glaucoma. In normal tension glaucoma, also referred to as low-pressure glaucoma, there is damage to the eye’s optic nerve, even though eye pressure is not elevated. Secondary glaucoma is when another disease or conditions like eye trauma, cataracts, or diabetes, causes or contributes to increased eye pressure.
Am I at risk?
Most common forms of glaucoma mostly affect the middle-aged and elderly, but anyone can get glaucoma. Certain groups tend to be at a higher risk than others. These groups include African Americans over the age of 40, all people over the age of 60, people with a family history of glaucoma, and people who have diabetes.
Can I prevent glaucoma?
There are many steps you can take to help protect your eyes and lower your risk of vision loss from glaucoma. If you are within the high-risk group, it’s important to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam to catch it early and begin treatment as soon as possible. Even if you’re not within the high-risk group, getting a comprehensive eye exam by the age of 40 is still helpful in catching not only glaucoma, but other eye diseases as well. Glaucoma tends to run in families. That is why it's important for you to find out about your family’s health history to know more about your personal vision health. Next, serious eye injuries can also lead to glaucoma. If you plan on using power tools or if you play in any high-speed racket sports in enclosed courts, it’s especially important for you to wear eye protection. Lastly, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, being physically active, and avoiding smoking will also help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma.
There is no cure for glaucoma… yet. But there are some treatments you can do to help reduce eye pressure and prevent permanent vision loss, like taking eye drops, oral medicine, surgery, or a combination of the three. It’s very important to take your medicine as prescribed and be sure to tell your eye care specialist about any side effects you encounter.
Vision loss due to glaucoma is irreversible. Take the first step in preventing glaucoma and schedule regular eye exams with your eye care specialist today!
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