Glaucoma Survival Guide

“What is glaucoma, why should it concern me, and how can I prevent it?”


Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States today. It is estimated that over four million Americans have it. Even so, most people are only vaguely aware of what glaucoma is. And surveys show that less than half of  Americans regularly receive the most effective tests to detect glaucoma.

If you are not sure what glaucoma is; if you do not know whether or not you are at risk; or if you would like to know what you can do to guard your vision from glaucoma’s devastating effects, read on.

What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease in which high eye pressure gradually causes damage to a person’s optic nerve.  This leads to a loss of side vision at first, but it can ultimately be blinding.

Eye pressure— what’s that?
Just as a car tire has air pressure, our eyes have fluid pressure.  Fluid is constantly entering into and draining from the eye.  This fluid exchange is what causes our eyes to have a “pressure.”

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In some people, eye pressure can become elevated.  This is dangerous  because it may damage the optic nerve (the nerve that sends visual information to the brain.) Damage to the optic nerve is usually a gradual but irreversible process.

Slowly, people with glaucoma lose their side vision.  In fact, this happens so slowly that it is nearly impossible to notice. If this process continues unchecked, it can lead to total blindness.

Am I at risk for glaucoma?
It is important to understand that anyone can have glaucoma.  It is a disease that can affect young and old, male and female, and people of all racial backgrounds and all lifestyles.

Even so, some people are at greater risk than others.  You are at a higher than average risk if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Over age 65.
  • African ancestry.
  • Family history of glaucoma.
  • Severely nearsighted.
  • History of an eye injury.

How can I  prevent glaucoma?
It’s simple. Get an eye exam.

You cannot sense the eye pressure that leads to glaucoma. Nor can you notice the extremely subtle changes in side vision that glaucoma causes.  But your eye doctor can. Plus, by using eye drops that dilate your pupils, he can see your optic nerve and look for signs of  damage.

If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, rest assured there are many treatments available that can slow or even halt its progressive vision loss.
A diagnosis of glaucoma is not an inevitable sentence of blindness; it is an opportunity to save the vision you still have!

glaucomatous nerve

What the eye doctor can see— a glaucomatous optic nerve..

Conclusion
Nobody is immune to the risk of glaucoma, but not all people are at equal risk.  If you fall into one of the high risk categories or if it has been more than a year since your last complete eye exam, call your eye doctor and schedule an exam today.
You owe it to yourself and to the ones you love. Do what you can to ensure a lifetime of healthy eyesight!

Get Informed!
The best way to ensure a lifetime of healthy vision is to get informed. Order  your free subscription to Insight Eye Health Monthly.

 

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