This year as you begin to make changes to live a happy, healthier life in 2009, resolve to have a glaucoma eye examination. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, it is estimated that over 4 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of those know they have it.

Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerve is damaged. The optic nerve is the part of the eye that carries images we see to the brain. Damage to thenerve is usually associated with elevated pressure within the eye (called intraocular pressure). The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises, there are usually no symptoms at first, but as the disease progresses, a person with glaucoma may notice their vision gradually failing with:

  • Blurred vision and loss of peripheral vision
  • Difficulty focusing on objects and a presence of halos around lights. 

Anyone can develop glaucoma. Those who are at higher risk and should have an eye exam at least every one to two years include:

  • African Americans over the age of 40
  • Everyone over the age of 60
  • People with a family history of glaucoma
  • Individuals who have experienced a serious eye injury
  • People with other health conditions, such a diabetes (exam every year)

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection and treatment can usually preserve vision. An eye care professional can help control glaucoma by lowering intraocular pressure with eye drops, laser treatments and surgery. Vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be restored, and if left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness.

 

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