As we say every year, January is glaucoma awareness month. It is, again, that time of the year to raise more awareness of this sight-stealing disease. Why a glaucoma awareness month, you may ask? According to World Health Organization, glaucoma blinds 4.5 million people worldwide. Moreover, it shows no early symptoms, and without the person being aware of it, up to 40 % of vision can be lost – which is why it also goes by the name “the sneak thief of sight.”
It is critical to educate everyone about the disease and the steps that can be taken to mitigate its impact. While it is important to spread this message all year round. January has simply become a month where we can shine that light a little brighter to raise awareness. And here we are doing our part!
1. Glaucoma: The Synonym
Glaucoma is a condition that affects the optic nerve, aka the main nerve of the eye. The process of destruction goes like this: As fluid accumulates in an eye with glaucoma, the increased pressure from the fluid damages the optic nerve. From thereon, the damaged optic nerve’s function in transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain gets compromised, leading to vision loss or blindness. Glaucoma patients typically begin to lose patches of vision on their sides or peripheral vision.
2. Could You Be in This Eye Stealer’s Trap?
This eye stealer’s risk factors include age (it is more common in people over 60), family history, medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, medications such as steroids, and much more. Furthermore, glaucoma is more common in African American and Latino populations. Now, do we fall under these categories? If so, we better be a lot more careful than the rest.
3. How Can You Keep a Check?
The only way to detect glaucoma is through a comprehensive eye exam. This includes a test to measure the pressure inside the eye, a visual field test to check for peripheral vision loss, and an optic nerve examination. By this, we mean none better than an eye specialist can spot it for you. With that being said, here is a gentle reminder to get that eye check you have been putting off forever!
4. Do We Have a Cure?
Glaucoma damage is permanent and cannot be reversed. This precisely means, with this eye disease, there is never going back to normal. Some cases may not result in total blindness, but the impairment can limit daily activities such as working, driving, and other things which we often take for granted. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, treatment will depend on the type and severity of the condition. Treatment options range from eye drops to surgery. The sooner you are diagnosed, the longer you can see.
While healthy lifestyles and behaviors are certainly encouraged as a preventative measure for vision problems, this condition currently has no preventive strategy. Regular eye exams are the only key to it: this way, the damaging effects can be slowed, and your sight can be saved, though not at its best, definitely never at its worst.