January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. According to Dr. James W. Harris of Graystone Eye, Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world.
This common eye disease refers to a group of eye disorders that impairs vision by damaging the optic nerve, which is the “cable” that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma can occasionally cause blurred vision, colored haloes around lights and severe pain. However, most people with glaucoma don’t have any symptoms at all.
Many cases develop without an identifiable cause,
though inherited genes may play a role in the development of the most common types. It may also be caused by ocular trauma, shingles, diabetes, as well as other specific ocular conditions.
“One of the challenges we face with glaucoma is that people are not aware the disease is slowly stealing their vision,” says Dr. Harris. “By the time they realize they are losing their sight, it is sometimes too late to be restored.”
Dr. Harris identifies high-risk candidates as:
- those who are approaching retirement age,
- have a family history of glaucoma,
- are diabetic,
- or those who have thin corneas.
Glaucoma cannot be prevented, however, early detection and treatment can control the disease and reduce the chances of permanent vision loss. “The most common treatment for glaucoma is the daily use of medicated eye drops. Laser treatment is often used because of its excellent safety profile and effectiveness. Surgery for glaucoma may be required if medicines and laser fail to control the disease,” says Dr. Harris.
According to the National Eye Health Education Program, more than 90% of patients do not comply with their ocular medication dosing regimens and nearly 50% discontinue taking their medications before six months. Glaucoma silently steals eyesight from more than 2.7 million Americans each year.
Individuals at risk for glaucoma should have regular dilated eye examinations to help detect this disease. To schedule an appointment at one of four Graystone Eye offices, call 828.322.2050 or visit http://www.graystone-eye.com.