Glaucoma Awareness Month: Tips to keep your vision
Glaucoma is a group of eye-related diseases that damage the optic nerve. Left untreated, glaucoma can result in vision loss or total blindness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about three million Americans have glaucoma. It is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, behind cataracts.
The most common form of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma, which results in increased eye pressure. There are often no early symptoms for this type of glaucoma, which is why nearly half of all people living with the disease don’t even know they have it.
There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but if it is caught in early stages, vision loss can be kept to a minimum and vision may be preserved long-term through medical intervention.
Know the risk factors
While anyone can get glaucoma, there are certain groups that are at a higher risk. People at higher risk for developing glaucoma include:
• African Americans over 40.
• All adults 60 and older.
• People with a family history of glaucoma.
Preserve your vision
According to the CDC, staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, and avoiding smoking can all reduce your risk factors for developing non-hereditary forms of glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is hereditary, so it’s important to talk to your family members regularly about their vision health. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is critical in diagnosing all forms of glaucoma in the early stages. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once per year for people in high-risk groups.
Managing and treating glaucoma If glaucoma is detected during an eye exam, your eye care provider may prescribe eye drops or other medication, or recommend surgery to reduce pressure in the eye and prevent permanent vision loss.
For people who are diagnosed with glaucoma, it is critical to keep up with your eye care appointments and to be proactive with your eye care provider to manage potential vision loss. Talk to your eye care provider often about their treatment recommendations and ask them how often you should return for follow-up exams.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)