January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, almost 3 million people in the US over the age of 40 have glaucoma. Half of those affected do not even know they have it. The National Eye Institute projects a 58% increase by 2030 to total of more than 4 million people affected. This disease is sneaky, since there are not symptoms. Once vision is lost, it is permanent. It has been called “the sneak thief of sight.” It’s hard to believe that one can lose as much as 40% of their vision without noticing.
Our goal for this post is to raise awareness and educate readers about this sight-stealing disease.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that lead to damage to the optic nerve: often without symptoms. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain. In most cases, damage to the optic nerve is due to increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP). Most common forms primarily affect middle-agers and seniors, but glaucoma can be present in all ages.
Is there a cure for Glaucoma?
Presently there is no cure for glaucoma. EARLY DETECTION IS KEY! Medication and surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. Treatment is determined by the type of glaucoma and other health factors.
There are two main types of glaucoma:
- Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma(POAG) and Angle-Closure Glaucoma(IOP). Both of these types are distinguished by an increased intraocular (inner eye) pressure. Normal Tension Glaucoma is marked by optic nerve damage even with normal inner eye pressure.
- Secondary Glaucoma is optic nerve damage caused by another disease or factors that contribute to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and loss of vision. There are other types of glaucoma as well.
How to prevent Glaucoma?
To best protect sight from glaucoma, get regular and comprehensive eye examinations. Again, early detection is most important. Those at highest risk are African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. Siblings of those affected with glaucoma are also at significant risk for developing it. Others at rsik are people over age 60, family members of those diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely near-sighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at risk and may prevent unnecessary loss of vision.
If eye drops have been ordered for treatment, these simple steps can help those who need them. Eye drops are most often prescribed for treating glaucoma; using them properly is really important. Use just as instructed by your eye care professional. Proper use of your glaucoma medication can improve the medicine’s effectiveness and reduce risk of side effects.
How to use Glaucoma Eye Drops:
- Wash your hands.
- Hold the bottle upside down.
- Tilt your head back.
- Hold the bottle in one hand and place it as close as possible to the eye.
- With the other hand, pull down your lower eyelid. This forms a pocket.
- Place the prescribed number of drops into the lower eyelid pocket. If you are using more than one eye drop, be sure to wait at least 5 minutes before applying the second eye drop.
- Close your eye OR press the lower lid lightly with your finger for at least 1 minute. Either of these steps keeps the drops in the eye and helps prevent the drops from draining into the tear duct, which can increase your risk of side effects.
More information on Glaucoma:
There are many resources available for learning more about glaucoma visit:
Do you have or someone you love been diagnosed with Glaucoma? How have you or they been treated?