January is National Glaucoma Awareness month. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affect the eyes due to damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries information to the brain from the eyes. Diagnosis results in a gradual loss of eyesight leading to potential blindness. The effects are permanent. There are over 3 million people affected by this disease with the number set to increase over 50 percent by 2030 (www.glaucoma.org). A startling fact is that 40 percent of vision can be lost without any symptoms.
One of the most important things that can be done is to have regular eye exams. These exams will look for signs of glaucoma, and if glaucoma is diagnosed, then treatments can begin to slow or stop the progression. Glaucoma is more prevalent in Hispanic, African or Asian descent. Additionally, anyone at any age could potentially develop glaucoma. It is not just limited to just the older generation.
Eye exam frequency is based upon the age of the individual and the level of risk factor for the disease. Recommended eye exam frequency:
- before age 40, every two to four years
- from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
- from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
- after age 65, every six to 12 months
- every two years or less for those at high risk
When diagnosing glaucoma, there are five areas of the eye that will be examined:
- inner eye pressure
- complete field of vision
- thickness of the cornea
- shape and color of the optic nerve
- angle in eye where iris meets cornea
If the disease has been diagnosed, there are a few things that can be done to help manage your symptoms. If your doctor has prescribed medication for you, take it at the prescribed times in the prescribed dose. Mention to your doctor any side effects you are feeling or if you are having problems getting your medication. Since glaucoma is a condition of increased pressure, cut down on your salt intake, which will lessen fluid retention. Protect your eyes when you are swimming by wearing goggles. Women who wear eye makeup should choose hypoallergenic brands and follow the recommended shelf-life guidelines. Glaucoma can make the eyes feel itchy, but it is recommended to not rub your eyes which could cause further damage. A final recommendation is to find ways to reduce the stress in your life. Stress increases pressure in the body which will also increase the pressure in the eyes.Leave a reply →