Have you set your resolutions for the New Year? Make sure to add “having my eyes checked” to the top of your list, even if you think you are seeing clearly!
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to talk about the importance of annual eye exams. Glaucoma, a disease that affects the optic nerve, is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Frighteningly, glaucoma has no symptoms until blindness has already begun.
There are multiple types of glaucoma, but the most common type is called Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (or POAG for short). With POAG, damage to the optic nerve occurs due to fluid pressure inside the eye. The fluid inside of the eye is either being produced too quickly or is not draining quickly enough, and the pressure that builds up damages the optic nerve. Over time, this damage results in vision loss.
Glaucoma can occur for various reasons, and some people are at a higher risk than others for developing it (such as those with a family history of glaucoma, a personal history of eye injuries or surgeries, and those over the age of 40).
Glaucoma has no symptoms until it reaches the advanced stages of the disease. In these severe cases, patients may begin to notice a loss of their peripheral (side) vision. If left untreated, it progresses to total, permanent, and irreversible vision loss.
Because glaucoma has no symptoms, and there is no cure for vision loss from glaucoma, annual eye exams are essential (even if your vision is clear!). Early detection and treatment can save your vision. Risk factors for glaucoma can be detected at your annual eye exam and specialty testing can be performed to determine if treatment is necessary. Initial treatment typically involves eye drops that are used once or more daily. Laser and surgical procedures are also possibilities, particularly in advanced cases, or if drop usage is not preferred or not possible.
At Mitchell Family Eye Care, we offer state-of-the-art technology to help our doctors diagnose and manage ocular diseases such as glaucoma. To learn more about the instruments we use, check out our Glaucoma Treatment and Management page, and if you or a family member hasn’t had an exam within the last year, please give us a call today to schedule an appointment!