January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and at Optikk 30A we are working to help protect our patients from this sight stealing disease. Over 3 million Americans suffer from Glaucoma, estimating only half of them being aware of it. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of preventable blindness in the world with its damage being irreversible.
What is Glaucoma? This disease arises from elevated intra-ocular pressure which causes damage to the optic nerve which leads to progressive, irreversible vision loss. There are several types of glaucoma with the most common being: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). In this disease process the vision loss develops slowly over time starting with peripheral vision loss while maintaining the central part of your vision. POAG is often asymptomatic until the late stages of the disease where significant vision loss has occurred.
It is extremely important to see an eye doctor for regular eye exams to detect elevated pressure or optic nerve changes. The optic nerve damage in glaucoma is not reversible. Once a diagnosis has been made, the goal of treatment is to stop the progression of the disease. Management of glaucoma typically involves eye drops that lower the intra-ocular pressure and can also require surgical intervention. If you are diagnosed with Glaucoma, it is important to monitor the disease closely with your eye doctor to effectively maintain adequate control of your eye pressure, reducing the risk of further damage to your optic nerve.
Everyone is at risk for Glaucoma, but there are certain groups of people who are at a higher risk:
· African Americans and Latinos are six to eight times more likely to develop glaucoma than Caucasians.
· People over the age of 60 are six times more likely to develop some form of Glaucoma.
· Family history increases your risk of developing Glaucoma four to nine times. Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma is hereditary, so it is important to keep a record of your family medical history.
· Eye injuries can damage the eye’s drainage system, leading to Traumatic Glaucoma.
In the United States alone, an estimated 120,000 people are blind from Glaucoma. Talk to your friends and family about Glaucoma and its many risk factors and possible symptoms. There may not currently be a cure for this sight stealing disease, but steps can be taken to protect and preserve your vision. Call or stop by our optical boutique in Redfish Village on Scenic 30A. Together, we can get ahead of vision loss.
Dr. Korrie Lalim
Read more about Glaucoma from the Glaucoma Research Institute at www.glaucoma.org.