Observed every January, Glaucoma Awareness Month serves as a crucial reminder of the significance of eye health and the silent threat posed by the disease. In this article, we will delve into the world of glaucoma and share information about its impact and the importance of early detection and prevention.
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and blindness if left untreated. While there are several types of glaucoma, the most common types are open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma.
In open-angle glaucoma, the draining of the liquid inside of the eye called the aqueous humor is impeded, causing it to accumulate over time and the pressure inside of the eye to increase. The added pressure can lead to damage to the optic nerve.
In angle-closure glaucoma, the drainage of aqueous humor becomes blocked suddenly, resulting in a rapid increase in intraocular pressure that can cause intense eye pain, nausea, and blurred vision. If you experience the symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma, you should seek immediate care from an eye care professional.
Referred to as the “silent thief of sight”, glaucoma often progresses so slowly that it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. The subtle symptoms of glaucoma can include blurred vision, eye pain, headaches, and halos around lights. If you experience any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your optometrist. Most importantly, make sure you maintain regular eye exams even if you are not experiencing any symptoms so that you can be screened for glaucoma.
Risk Factors of Glaucoma
Knowing if you have risk factors of glaucoma is vital for early detection and treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma can be hereditary, so knowing your family’s medical history is important in staying proactive about your eye health. Having diabetes, being severely nearsighted, and being middle-aged and older are also risk factors, and those in those categories should be diligent about keeping regular eye exams.
The goal of any treatment for glaucoma is to reduce eye pressure, as that is the inevitable cause of vision loss. The most common treatment method is medicated eye drops, which reduce pressure and, in some cases, protect the optic nerve from further damage. Pills can also be prescribed.
In some cases, laser surgery is the best option. Laser surgery reopens or creates new channels for fluid in the eye to reduce swelling.
Some ways you can lower your risk of developing glaucoma are by maintaining a healthy weight, keeping blood pressure under control, staying physically active, and not smoking. These healthy habits will also help prevent diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Although Glaucoma Awareness Month is drawing to a close, join us in spreading awareness about the disease throughout the year. By understanding the risks, recognizing symptoms, and promoting the importance of regular eye exams, we can collectively work towards a future where the threat of glaucoma is minimized. Open your eyes to the importance of glaucoma awareness, and help others do the same.
The Black Hills Regional Eye Institute is proud to offer our region with comprehensive glaucoma treatments. Our glaucoma specialist, Dr. Jorgensen, provides quality care to our patients, as well as participates in clinical trials that aim to help the over 3 million Americans that suffer from glaucoma.