As this month has been designated National Glaucoma Awareness Month, this post is intended to spread the word about the importance of early diagnosis of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a class of eye disorders that damage the eye's optic nerve, which can be a precursor to loss of central vision and eventual blindness. When not treated, the damage often first causes peripheral vision loss and then moves to a complete loss of vision. Glaucoma is the leading reason for preventable loss of vision and more than 60 million individuals worldwide are afflicted with the vision threatening condition.
A significant cause of glaucoma is thought to be increased pressure in the eye. As pressure around the eye is elevated, this causes damage to the optic nerve which transmits signals to the brain. When this pathway is damaged vision is affected. At the current time, damage to the optic nerve can't be fixed.
Glaucoma is especially threatening because unlike other forms of vision impairment, it is asymptomatic until vision is already lost.
It is due to this that glaucoma is often called the "sneak thief of sight." The problem is: how do you protect yourself against an illness which is asymptomatic?
Early diagnosis of glaucoma is crucial to effective management. Although everyone may be at risk for glaucoma, specific populations have a higher risk than others. Major risk factors for glaucoma may include adults over 45, those with family members who have had glaucoma, a predisposition to diabetes, or known eye problems such as elevated intraocular pressure.
There are different categories of glaucoma such as open-angle or closed angle glaucomas. As a rule of thumb, both eyes are affected, although the disease has been known to advance more quickly in one eye than in the other.
You can learn more about glaucoma if you speak to an eye doctor. There are a number of diagnostic eye examinations employed to measure damage to the ocular nerves caused by glaucoma. Especially if you are 45 or older or have one of the other risk factors named above, you should plan for a routine eye exam annually.
It is unfortunate that most forms of glaucoma cannot be prevented. That being said, the damage to the optic nerve and deterioration of vision can be halted by early diagnosis and prompt treatment. Contact Dr. Andrew Clarke and Associates now, for an annual screening for glaucoma.