Happy New Year to All!
Millions of people in the United States are at risk for blindness, and some do not know it. During January’s Glaucoma Awareness Month, we are urging everyone who may be at risk for glaucoma to see an ophthalmologist for a complete eye exam. We recommend that those at risk have an eye exam at least every year. Those at highest risk for glaucoma may include:
- Anyone over age 60
- African-American heritage
- Hispanic heritage
- Patients with other health conditions, such as diabetes
- Those that have experienced a serious eye injury
- Patients with family history of glaucoma
- Patients who have been on steroid medications, including inhalers and nasal sprays, treatment for asthma, kidney disease and arthritis.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged by high pressure inside the eye and other factors such as poor blood flow. The most common type of Glaucoma is Open-Angle Glaucoma in which pressure in the eye builds up slowly and gradually. Patients usually cannot feel pressure which makes it difficult for them to identify the disease. Angle-Closure Glaucoma is much less common and may produce an eye ache, blurred vision, or a red eye. Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma is a serious form of the disease and is associated with a sudden rise of pressure within the eye. This usually causes pain, redness, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting.
Anyone can develop glaucoma and there are no warning symptoms. As the disease progresses they may start to notice their vision decreasing slowly. If you experience the following please see an ophthalmologist immediately:
- Blurred vision
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Difficulty focusing on objects
- Presence of halos around lights
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for glaucoma, but prevention and early detection are essential to the preservation of vision. Any vision that is lost to the disease cannot be repaired. Therefore, if the disease goes untreated, it will only worsen and a patient will eventually become totally blind.
Treatment is necessary to lower intraocular pressure, improve blood flow and protect retinal cells. Glaucoma is primarily treated with eye drops. If eye drops alone cannot control intraocular pressure, then we have a very effective laser procedure, which is painless and done in the office, sometimes surgery may be necessary.
Remember early detection and treatment is essential for healthy eyesight. As leaders in the eye care industry, we hope you find this information helpful in providing excellent care for you and your family.