January is National Glaucoma Month
More than four million people in the United States have glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and destroy eyesight. Unfortunately, nearly half of those with glaucoma are not even aware that they have it.
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but those at higher risk for developing the disease include:
- African Americans over age 40
- Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
- People with a family history of the disease
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care professional can see inside the eye to detect signs of glaucoma, such as subtle changes to the optic nerve, before any symptoms appear. This allows the eye care professional to determine if you have glaucoma or are at risk for it, to monitor your condition, to treat glaucoma as early as possible, and to look for other vision problems. Once symptoms appear, it may be too late to prevent vision loss and the progression to blindness.
If glaucoma is detected early, treatments such as eye drops or surgery can slow or stop vision loss. High pressure inside the eye, which may be associated with glaucoma, does not by itself mean that you have glaucoma.
Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam and evaluation of the optic nerve by an eye care professional can tell you that.