January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and it’s the perfect time to learn about the signs, risk factors, and treatment options for this eye disease. Keep reading to learn how you can prevent this sight-stealing eye condition.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that damages the optic nerve, which carries information from your eyes to your brain. If left untreated, it can cause permanent vision loss or blindness. Anyone can develop glaucoma but it’s most common among adults over 60 years old, African Americans over 40, people with preexisting conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, and those with a family history of glaucoma.
Signs & symptoms
Common signs of glaucoma include red eyes, headaches, halos around lights at night, blurred vision, eye pain or pressure in one or both eyes, and tunnel vision. Unfortunately, there are often no early warning signs for glaucoma so it’s important to talk to your optometrist about your individual risk and schedule eye appointments regularly. Your eye doctor will use special tests to detect the presence of glaucoma before it causes permanent damage.
There are several treatment options for glaucoma including medications that reduce intraocular pressure or laser surgery that helps drain excess fluid out of the eye. In some cases, a combination of these treatments may be recommended by your optometrist to control symptoms and prevent further vision damage or loss.
Preventing vision loss from glaucoma
It’s important that you schedule regular check-ups with your optometrist so they can monitor your eyes for any changes in optical health. If you get diagnosed with glaucoma, make sure you follow all instructions given by your optometrist regarding medications and lifestyle changes that will help reduce intraocular pressure within the eye(s). Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle—including diet and exercise—can help reduce stress on the eyes which could potentially slow down any potential damage caused by glaucoma.
The more we understand glaucoma and how it affects our eyes, the better our chances of preventing vision damage or loss. If you are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma, schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam at Hayden Optometric today.