What would you think if a disease that could rob people of their vision affected more than 2.2 million Americans but only half of them knew about it? That’s the case with glaucoma. It’s a disease that goes undetected in millions of people, especially those over age 60, because the symptoms develop gradually and painlessly.
As part of Glaucoma Awareness Month, we’re publishing this blog post to help promote increased attention to this eye disease and identify steps to take to reduce the risk of developing glaucoma. It’s also a way to increase the chances of early detection and treatment.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, and occurs when the clear fluid that normally drains from the eye instead builds up which then puts pressure on the optic nerve. This gradually damages the eye and eventually leads to restricted vision and, ultimately, blindness. The early detection and treatment of glaucoma are key to reducing its impact on vision.
The good news is that once an eye doctor diagnoses the condition, treatment can help slow the progress of glaucoma so patients can remain active and independent for years to come. Early detection is important because the vision that is lost cannot be restored. Because the symptoms evolve so gradually, many men and women don’t notice changes until they become more severe. That’s why scheduling an annual eye exam is critical for older persons.
Treatments range from prescription eye drops and pills to laser surgery in most cases. Severe glaucoma cases may require having a surgeon place a shunt in the eye to help drain the fluid which alleviates pressure on the optic nerve.
What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
The early signs of glaucoma can be one or all of the following symptoms:
- Loss of side (peripheral) vision
- Inability to adjust to darkened rooms
- Blurred or foggy vision, especially when awakening
- Frequent switching of glasses
These same symptoms may be caused by something other than glaucoma, but the only way to know is to have a board-certified optometrist or ophthalmologist examine your eyes and conduct a vision test. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, an eye doctor can explain the treatment options you have. Few people understand those options, according to a National Glaucoma Impact Survey conducted by the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
At Dr. Black’s Eye Associates, our eye doctors communicate honestly and clearly with patients and encourage questions to ensure that they understand the diagnosis and their treatment options. If you’ve been looking for an ophthalmologist in Southern Indiana or the Louisville, KY, area, we have multiple convenient locations for residents in those areas. You can contact our office using the online form to schedule a screening for glaucoma or call us at (812) 284-0660 to schedule an appointment.