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What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States. Glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms in its early stages, and vision loss progresses at such a gradual rate that people affected by the condition are often unaware of it until their sight has already been compromised. During Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, eye care professionals advise the public that the best defense against developing glaucoma-related blindness is by having routine, comprehensive eye exams.

More than 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older suffer from glaucoma. Nearly half do not know they have the disease—it causes no early symptoms-which leads this disease to be known as the “Sneak Thief of Sight.”

Glaucoma is often misunderstood. Since many people with moderate to severe glaucoma have peripheral field loss but often retain good central vision until late in the disease, what a person can and can’t see may be surprising. The diagnosis of glaucoma is made when your eye doctor notices a particular type of damage in the optic nerve known as "cupping", often with associated loss in the field of vision. This diagnostic finding can occur with or without high intraocular pressure.

Four Key Facts About Glaucoma:

  1. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness.
  2. There is no cure (yet) for glaucoma, but lowering the eye pressure with treatment usually stabilizes the disease.
  3. Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, especially if there is a family history.
  4. There may be no symptoms to warn you until there is significant, irreversible damage.

Care and Treatment:

Patients with glaucoma need to work closely with an eye care provider and faithfully keep up with treatment and check-ups. Most glaucoma can be successfully managed with daily prescription drops or laser treatment. Advanced or complex cases may require surgery.

For more information, visit: the Glaucoma Research Foundation

Coming in February: Age-related Macular Degeneration Awareness Month

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Page last updated: 12/28/2016 1:52:45 PM