January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month
Did you know that January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month? It’s a time where eyecare specialists and healthcare providers across the country try to spread awareness about this harmful disease. Glaucoma is known for being highly undetectable due to its lack of symptoms, which can make it quite dangerous. In fact, once somebody with glaucoma loses their vision, it is a permanent loss.
Glaucoma is more present amongst Black and Brown populations in the US such as African American and Latino groups. In fact, African Americans are six to eight times more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasian Americans. Unfortunately, there are millions of people across the United States that currently have glaucoma, and this number is only expected to rise in coming years.
Glaucoma is actually a name given to a group of eye conditions that hurt the optic nerve in the eye. Damage to the optic nerve is usually caused by too much pressure being present in the eye. For older people, glaucoma is actually the leading cause of blindness and may show up with no warning signs.
Since vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be reversed, it is critical to receive regular eye exams that measure eye pressure in particular. The good news is that an early diagnosis can help slow down or even prevent glaucoma conditions.
For diabetic individuals, the risk of getting glaucoma is twice as high. Diabetic eye disease can damage blood vessels in the retinal area and cause abnormal blood vessels to grow in the eye. This in turn can block the eye’s natural drainage system and lead to glaucoma.
Risk Factors for Glaucoma
It’s important to understand risk factors associated with glaucoma and spread awareness to people that may be at a higher likelihood of developing the condition. Here are some key factors to take note of:
- Being African American, Asian, or Hispanic
- Being over 60 years of age
- Having high internal eye pressure
- Having a history of glaucoma in the family
- Being diagnosed with other health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease
- Being extremely farsighted or nearsighted
Taking Steps to Prevent Glaucoma
Thankfully there are steps that people can take to reduce their likelihood of developing glaucoma. Most importantly, make sure to see your ophthalmologist regularly for comprehensive eye exams. These can help detect glaucoma early on and make it more likely to prevent blindness and serious vision loss. People over the age of 55 should receive a thorough examination every one to three years at least.
Understanding your family’s health history can also be helpful in identifying your risk levels for glaucoma. This is also true if you have other health conditions such as diabetes. Staying healthy through regular exercise can help mitigate glaucoma risk and likely improve other dangerous health conditions you may have. Eating a proper diet can also help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure among diabetics in particular.
If you have high eye pressure, glaucoma eye drops can help reduce the risk of this leading to the development of glaucoma. Ask your doctor to see if a prescription makes sense for you.
As you can see, glaucoma is a serious eye condition that needs to be understood properly. Since glaucoma can cause permanent, irreversible vision loss, it is vital that people see their ophthalmologists for a comprehensive eye exam on a regular basis. This is especially true for people that are at a higher risk for developing this condition such as older individuals and diabetics.
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent and mitigate the risks of developing glaucoma. If you are concerned about glaucoma for yourself, please feel free to contact us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.