Glaucoma is a term used to refer to a group of diseases that affect the eye’s optic nerve. Nearly half of all people who suffer from glaucoma don’t realize they have it, and most won’t start noticing the side effects until they grow severe. If caught early, damage to your vision can be prevented. However, if glaucoma goes undetected for too long, permanent blindness is possible. Here’s what else you need to know.
Fast Facts About Glaucoma
- About 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma and it is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
- Glaucoma cannot be treated, but vision loss because of the disease can be prevented
- If glaucoma isn’t managed, it can result in vision loss and even blindness that is not reversible.
- Preventative eye exams can help you detect glaucoma early.
Who’s At Risk for Glaucoma?
All people over the age of 60 are considered to be at an increased risk of glaucoma, but anyone can suffer from it at any age. If you have a family history of glaucoma, you should prioritize your eye health and get frequent exams to look for signs of the disease. People who have diabetes are also at an increased risk, being twice as likely to suffer from glaucoma as non-diabetics.
While glaucoma can impact anyone of any race, African Americans are 6x to 8x more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians. Therefore, all African Americans over the age of 40 are considered to be a high-risk group.
Tips to Protect Your Eye Health
Everyone should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam by the age of 40 to help detect glaucoma and other eye diseases early. Those in high-risk groups should continue to get this exam at least once a year (and Medicare will cover it).
The exam is very important because open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, has no early warning signs, so you won’t know you have it until you either get an exam or start losing your vision. If you have glaucoma, your eye care specialist may prescribe eye drops to help stop the disease from progressing and they’ll let you know how often to return for follow-up exams.
Whether or not you have glaucoma, taking additional steps can help protect your eye health — like controlling your blood pressure, being physically active, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking. Prevention is the best option when it comes to your sight.
“Treatment options for patients with glaucoma are ever expanding and really importantly, ever-improving. We’re having better treatment, easier on patients, and effectively better results.” – Sebastian B. Heersink, M.D., partner at Eye Center South, Dothan.
If you have questions regarding your glaucoma risks, please contact your nearest Eye Center South for a screening evaluation.