By Erica Laceria on Jan 7, 2016 @ 04:23 PM
Eyesight is something no one wants to lose, but for more than three million Americans, this is a reality due to glaucoma.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the condition is called "the thief of light" because it's symptomless. Up to forty percent of one's vision can be lost without noticing, and once it's gone, it can't be restored.
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and it's incredibly important to bring awareness to the number one cause of preventable blindness. Here's what you need to know:
What exactly is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball, which eventually causes loss of sight. This disease damages the eye's optic nerve which is responsible for carrying vision signals to the brain. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form, and it usually begins with loss of side vision – one reason those with the condition don't tend to notice until a considerable amount of vision loss has taken place.
Is there a treatment for glaucoma?
While there is no cure for glaucoma, there is treatment in the form of medication and/or surgery. Various brands of eye drops and pills are available for glaucoma patients as prescribed by an eye doctor. Taking the medications as prescribed is crucial in preventing vision loss. In the last couple decades, advancements in laser surgery has been made to also aid this condition. A combination of these methods is often used by doctors, depending on the severity of the disease for the patient.
How to prevent glaucoma
Seeing your eye doctor for a thorough examination every year is very important. This is to date the only way to detect glaucoma. During your visit, a dilated eye exam will be performed, meaning the doctor will place drops in your eyes to widen the pupils. This will give him a closer look so he can properly diagnose a variety of vision issues. Upon a glaucoma diagnosis, your doctor can prescribe treatment right away.
Am I at risk of getting glaucoma?
While glaucoma can affect anyone, even babies, those who are over sixty are at a higher risk for developing the condition. Other risk factors include being of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent. If you have family history of glaucoma or diabetes, there exists a chance that you can come in contact with the disease as well.
Glaucoma is just one reason that visiting your eye doctor is important. Having vision insurance can really help when it comes to maintaining healthy eyes and keeping treatments more affordable, should this disease present itself to you at some point in time.