January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, a necessary time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. The most common forms of glaucoma primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, but glaucoma can affect people of all ages. Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma, and experts estimate that half of them do not know they have it.
How Does Glaucoma Affect Your Eye Health?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, blind spots appear when glaucoma damages the fibers of the optic nerve. If the entire nerve is destroyed, you can become completely blind in that eye. The optic nerve comprises many nerve fibers that carry images to the brain. It is like an electric cable with many wires bundled together.
When there is more damage to the optic nerve, larger blank spots will begin to appear within the vision field. Many people do not notice these blank spots until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and the blank spots become large.
This unnoticed vision loss is why people with glaucoma or those individuals who are at risk of glaucoma should have regular eye exams.
The Silent Thief Of Sight – Glaucoma!
Glaucoma has no symptoms in its early stages. It is such a silent thief of sight that half of the people with glaucoma do not know they have it! Regular eye exams are essential and must be scheduled so your eye doctor can find this disease and inform you how often you should be examined.
Can Glaucoma Be Stopped?
Glaucoma damage is permanent and cannot be reversed. However, medicine and surgery can help to stop further damage. Your eye doctor may use medication or laser surgery to treat glaucoma for therapy methods.
New Year — New Health Goals
There is hope for future glaucoma patients and treating glaucoma successfully is a team effort between you and your eye doctor. Although there is no cure for any form of glaucoma, early diagnosis and treatment can help control the disease and slow the process of vision loss or blindness. As you write your New Year goals, kickstart your New Year health goals, and add an eye exam to your priority list.
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References: American Academy of Ophthalmology. This blog provides information and discussion about eye health and related subjects. The content provided in this blog and any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, they should consult with an appropriately licensed physician.