January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Nearly 3 million people have glaucoma, and in eye-opening news, only half of them know it.
Glaucoma, known as the "silent thief of sight," is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. The disease develops slowly and can damage your vision gradually, so you may not notice any vision loss for years. The Glaucoma Research Foundation projects the number of glaucoma patients to increase to 4.2 million by 2030.
What are the two main types of glaucoma?
1.Primary open-angle glaucoma. This is the most common form of glaucoma and occurs when the eye doesn't drain fluid as well as it should (almost like a clogged drain). This causes the eye pressure to build and, ultimately, it damages the optic nerve and leads to peripheral vision loss. The American Academy of Ophthalmology says there are often no early symptoms, which is why so many people remain unaware of the disease. "By the time a patient is aware of vision loss, the disease is usually quite advanced," says the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Without proper treatment, glaucoma can lead to blindness."
2.Angle-closure glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is less-common and may also be referred to as acute glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma. It occurs when the iris blocks the drainage angle of the eye (similar to a piece of paper sliding over a sink drain). When the "drain" or drainage angle is completely blocked, eye pressure rises quickly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology says. This is called an "acute attack," and could lead to blindness. Unlike open-angle glaucoma, you will notice symptoms during an acute attack, such as sudden blurry vision, severe eye pain or headache, nausea and vomiting, and rainbow-colored rings around your eyes.
Who's at risk?
While everyone is at risk for glaucoma, some groups of people are at a higher risk than others. People over age 60, those who have a family history, have an existing medical condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics are all high-risk groups.
The Glaucoma Research Foundation recommends people with an increased risk to get a complete eye exam, including eye dilation, every one or two years. Not sure if you fall into this category? Complete the Glaucoma 17-Point Checklist, created by Prevent Blindness.
What does treatment look like?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma or way to restore lost vision. But medication can be used to prevent further vision loss. Most often, glaucoma is controlled with daily prescription eye drops that lower the eye pressure. If medication is not sufficient, laser surgery and incisional surgery are also available options for glaucoma patients.
Who should get checked?
Everyone! Make it a part of your New Year's Resolution to get a complete eye exam to ensure your vision health and wellness needs are met. MyEyeDr. works closely with individuals to detect eye issues like glaucoma early to prevent further vision loss. Click here to see how glaucoma and other common vision problems can impact everyday life.
MyEyeDr. is a network of optometry practices that offer comprehensive eye care services, a selection of designer and value prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, and standard and specialty prescription contact lenses.
By welcoming all vision insurance plans and providers, MyEyeDr. makes vision health attainable for everyone. For more information, visit www.myeyedr.com.