Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States and January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. There are different types of glaucoma, but the most common type in this country is open angle glaucoma. Open angle glaucoma occurs when the pressure in the eye is too high for that particular eye to tolerate. This high pressure causes characteristic changes in the optic nerve (the cord between the eye and the brain).
Unlike other blinding eye diseases which cause a patient to have symptoms, glaucoma is often asymptomatic. The patient does not notice that he/she is losing vision because glaucoma usually causes progressive peripheral vision loss that can occur slowly over years. As a result, patients do not realize that they are losing their peripheral vision. This vision loss is preventable by detecting glaucoma early, which can be accomplished through a comprehensive eye exam.
Risk factors for glaucoma include those with a family history of glaucoma, African American or Hispanic patients over age 55, and anyone over age 65. Any patient with one of these risk factors should undergo an eye exam to ensure that there are no signs of glaucoma, which include high eye pressure, characteristic optic nerve changes, visual field loss, and/or abnormalities on state-of-the-art testing like Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). All of these signs can be checked during an office visit at Levin Luminais Chronister Eye Associates.
Glaucoma can initially be treated with eye drops or laser. If the pressure in the eye cannot be controlled with these treatments, surgery may be necessary. If caught early, glaucoma is a treatable disease, but once vision has been lost it cannot be restored. The only way to detect glaucoma early and prevent vision loss is to have a complete eye exam! Please call us today to schedule your appointment.