Millions of Americans suffer from glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma can cause serious vision loss and even blindness. Glaucoma is actually the second-leading cause of blindness in the world, and many people don't even know they suffer from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The prevalence of glaucoma is not to be ignored. In fact, prevention is the best policy. Anyone, including children, can develop the disease in their lifetime. Take this month, which is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, to commit to regular testing for glaucoma and other eye problems so you can maintain good vision throughout your life.
ComForCare in Palm Beach County wants everyone to be aware of the risks of glaucoma, but there are certain demographics who are at higher risk for developing the disease. Those demographics include:
People over 40 years old
People with family history of glaucoma
People of African-American, Asian, or Hispanic descent
Anyone who has high eye pressure or who has suffered an eye injury
People who are farsighted or nearsighted
Those who possess corneas with thin centers
Anyone suffering from diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, or poor blood circulation
Glaucoma develops slowly and gets worse over time. It is not curable, and vision loss cannot be reversed. The best way to get ahead of it is to visit your optometrist regularly and to document any changes in your vision. Other prevention strategies include a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, regular exercise, consuming caffeine in moderation, and wearing protective eyewear during activities that could cause injury.
There are two types of glaucoma:
Primary open-angle glaucoma: The open-angle type is the most common, and it can easily go undetected without testing because it is gradual and displays no symptoms. The consequences of allowing it to go unchecked can cause permanent vision loss, but there is a positive outlook for patients who get it diagnosed in its early stages.
Angle-closure glaucoma: This includes two sub-categories. The chronic type develops gradually over time, while the acute type happens quickly, which is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention to protect the person's vision. Angle-closure glaucoma is usually easier to notice because the pressure on the optic nerve can cause nausea, headache, pain, blurry vision, eye redness, and unusual reactions to lights.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people under the age of 40 get their eyes tested every 5 to 10 years. After age 40, that recommendation changes to 2 to 4 years. With age, eye tests should be conducted more often to prevent serious disease or vision loss.
Even without a cure for glaucoma, patients have greater chances of maintaining their vision if doctors can diagnose the disease early. After diagnosis, doctors can treat glaucoma in a variety of ways, including eye drops, oral medicine, or surgery.
Melissa Morante, co-owner of ComForCare Palm Beach says, "Regular eye exams with your optometrist will help you keep track of any changes to your vision and optical health. If you're concerned by any of your symptoms or believe you're at risk of developing glaucoma, consult an ophthalmologist who is trained in diagnosing serious eye diseases."
Let ComForCare Palm Beach become an integral care partner for you and your loved one. Their personalized care plans and compassionate caregivers help seniors live independently in their own homes and continue to do all the things they love.