Did you know that glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States? This eye disease affects more than 3 million Americans, and yet many people are still unaware of what it is and how to prevent it.
We’re going to discuss everything you need to know about glaucoma including; what it is, who is most at risk, what the symptoms are, and how to prevent it. Although glaucoma can occur at any age, it is most common in older adults.
We hope this information will help increase awareness about this serious eye disease and that what you read here today will encourage you to spread knowledge to those around you during and after Glaucoma Awareness Month.
What Is Glaucoma and What Does It Do to the Body?
Glaucoma is a condition that affects the optic nerve, which can lead to vision loss and even blindness. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying visual information from the eye to the brain. When this nerve is damaged, it can impact your ability to see clearly.
There are several different types of glaucoma, but all of them involve damage to the optic nerve.
Who Is Most at Risk?
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing glaucoma, including age, race, and family history. The majority of people who develop glaucoma are over 60 years old, but it can occur at any age. African Americans are more likely to develop glaucoma although no one is immune to the disease and people with a family history of the disease are also at risk.
What Are the Symptoms and What to Do if You Experience Them?
The symptoms of glaucoma vary depending on the type of glaucoma you have. However, common symptoms include
- Blurred vision
- Halos around lights
- Eye pain
- Red eyes
If you experience any of the symptoms of glaucoma, it is important to see a physician right away. Glaucoma can cause damage to the optic nerve and lead to blindness if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing further vision loss.
It is important to note that most people that are diagnosed with glaucoma, won’t always experience symptoms beforehand. This is why routine eye exams are so important.
How Can Glaucoma Be Prevented?
There are several ways that you can reduce your risk of developing glaucoma. Some methods include;
- Quitting smoking
- Controlling your blood pressure
- Eating a healthy diet
What Are Some Common Myths About Glaucoma?
There are several myths that people often believe about glaucoma. Let’s talk about the main few. You may hear someone say that only older people can develop the disease. This is not true. Anyone can develop glaucoma, regardless of their age.
Another myth is that testing for glaucoma is painful. Actually, the two tests you would usually receive would be an ocular tonometry or ophthalmoscopy (fundoscopy) ; both of these tests are painless.
Some people think that if a person has glaucoma that they will eventually become blind. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the disease. Utilizing modern treatments and going in for routine eye exams can make the condition manageable.
Lastly, so many people often believe that because no one in their family has had glaucoma that they won’t get the disease themselves. Yes, it’s true that glaucoma can be hereditary but there have been patients with no family history of the disease that received a positive diagnosis. Additionally, you have to also consider the fact that you may or may not be fully aware of your complete family health history. You may not know if a family member could have had glaucoma but was never actually tested.
How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?
It’s important to get your eyes checked regularly, especially if you are at risk of developing glaucoma. Eye exams can help to detect signs of glaucoma early when treatment is most effective. Everyone is different so you should always talk to your doctor about how often you should get your eyes checked.
Keep in mind that for glaucoma testing, measurement of intraocular pressure alone is no longer considered to be adequate enough for screening.
What Are Some Common Side Effects of Glaucoma Medications?
Glaucoma medications can cause a variety of side effects, although that goes with just about any other medication. Some of the side effects include eye pain, redness to the eyes, and blurred vision. If you experience side effects that are bothersome or persist for a long time, be sure to consult with your doctor as there could always be alternative options available.
How Can You Celebrate Glaucoma Awareness Month?
This year, we encourage you to celebrate Glaucoma Awareness Month by learning more about this serious eye disease. Educate your friends and family about the risk factors, symptoms, and prevention methods for glaucoma. You can also participate in fundraising events or awareness campaigns to help support research for a cure.
We hope that by raising awareness about glaucoma, we can work together to support the endeavor of finding a cure for this debilitating disease.