January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, a great time to find out if you or someone you know is at risk for developing glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affect vision by damaging or destroying the optic nerve. Nearly 4 million people in the United States over the age of 40 have Glaucoma; unfortunately, half of those people are not aware they have it. Glaucoma develops painlessly and gradually and is often called the “sneak thief of sight”.
The National Eye Institute encourages everyone to educate yourself on your family’s history of Glaucoma and to schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years. A comprehensive dilated eye exam allows the doctor to see inside the eye to detect changes to the optic nerve. When the changes are detected early the patient can use eye drops, surgery, or other treatments to slow or halt vision loss.
One of the signs of Glaucoma is increased pressure in the eyes. However, increased pressure does not always mean the patient has or will develop the disease. A person can also have Glaucoma without increased pressure in the eyes. This is known as normal tension glaucoma. In other cases, patients may develop secondary Glaucoma when another disease causes increased pressure and optic nerve damage. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam by an eye care professional can determine if you have Glaucoma.
There are two main types of glaucoma. Open Angle Glaucoma occurs when the fluid moves too slowly through the anterior chamber of the eye causing increased pressure and leading to optic nerve damage. Controlling the pressure inside the eye is important for patients with this type. Angle Closure Glaucoma occurs when fluid cannot drain through the angle and builds up in the eye. The fluid build-up can cause a sudden spike in pressure. It can also cause pain and nausea. A person with these symptoms should see an eye doctor immediately.
Even though Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, it can be treated and maintained if detected early. Vision loss from Glaucoma starts with peripheral vision, so many people do not notice the loss until it is too late. When Glaucoma is detected early in a comprehensive dilated eye exam, treatment can start immediately. Your doctor will determine which treatment you need. If eye drops are prescribed, it is important to use your drops every day as directed and see your doctor regularly. If you are not sure whether you are at risk for Glaucoma, you should find out about your family history and see an eye care professional every one to two years for a dilated exam. It is important to detect Glaucoma early to slow or prevent damage to the eyes and help save your vision.
Dr. Lehmann, Dr. Young, and Dr. Hilton have helped thousands of patients identify and treat Glaucoma. Please call Lehmann Eye Center at 936-569-8278 to schedule your comprehensive dilated eye exam to find out if you are at risk for Glaucoma. Let us help you protect your vision.
“Facts About Glaucoma”. National Eye Institute. January 8, 2015. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.
“January is Glaucoma Awareness Month”. Glaucoma Research Foundation. January 8, 2015. http://www.glaucoma.org/news/glaucoma-awareness-month.php
“Look to the Future: Get an Eye Exam to Save Your Vision from Glaucoma”. National Eye Institute. January 8, 2015. https://www.nei.nih.gov/news/briefs/glaucoma_awareness.