January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and what better way to ring in those New Year, New You resolutions than a pre-screening for glaucoma? Dr. Paige Laudicina calls it a symptomless disease,” an invisible threat that can go unnoticed or untreated for significant periods of time. Learn why visiting Eye Center, Inc. for a comprehensive eye exam can be so important to the long-term health of your eyesight.
The “Sneak Thief of Sight”
According to The National Eye Institute, glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Known as a symptomless disease, glaucoma can go unnoticed for years without symptoms or pain and have serious consequences if left untreated. With early treatment, however, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
Without symptoms or pain, many Americans aren’t even aware they have glaucoma. From a recent survey from American Optometry Association, The Optometry Times states,
- 90% of respondents think glaucoma is preventable. Only 10% know it’s not, but that it’s treatable.
- 86% don’t know what part of vision glaucoma affects.
- 72% think glaucoma has early warning signs.
Know if You’re At Risk
Certain factors may make you more at risk for glaucoma. According to The American Optometric Association, the following factors can increase your risk:
- Age. People over age 60. African Americans, however, are at increased risk after age 40. The risk of developing glaucoma increases slightly with each year of age.
- Race. African Americans are significantly more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians, and they are much more likely to suffer permanent vision loss. People of Asian descent and Native Alaskans are at higher risk of angle-closure glaucoma. People of Japanese descent are more likely to develop low-tension glaucoma.
- Family history of glaucoma. Having a family history of glaucoma increases the risk of developing glaucoma.
- Medical conditions. Some studies indicate that diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease may increase the risk of developing glaucoma.
- Physical injuries to the eye. Severe trauma, such as being hit in the eye, can result in immediate increased eye pressure. Internal damage from such a trauma can also cause future increases in pressure. Injury can also dislocate the lens, closing the drainage angle and increasing pressure.
- Other eye-related risk factors. Certain features of eye anatomy, namely thinner corneas and optic nerve sensitivity, indicate an increased risk for developing glaucoma. Conditions such as retinal detachment, eye tumors and eye inflammations may also trigger glaucoma. Some studies suggest that high amounts of nearsightedness may also be a risk.
- Corticosteroid use. Using corticosteroids (including cortisone, hydrocortisone and prednisone) for prolonged periods of time appears to put some people at risk of getting secondary glaucoma.
How to Protect Yourself
Annual Comprehensive Eye Exams are key to catching this disease early on and maintaining prevention. While health screenings are helpful, you ultimately need an optometrist to look at the optic nerve using dilation or OptoMaps. This will allow an optometrist to examine the pressure and nerves thoroughly and identify if potential signs of glaucoma are present. Our team of doctors at The Eye Center, Inc. are capable and equipped to diagnose and treat glaucoma, along with other ocular diseases.
If you fall under a category that may be at higher risk for glaucoma, you should schedule your Comprehensive Eye exam annually for early detection and prevention. It’s important that you call us today at (941) 756-2020 to schedule an appointment with any of our six optometrists at the Eye Center, Inc. We offer three convenient optometry offices and optical centers in the Manatee County area.