Glaucoma is a silent disease that can gradually steal your eyesight without any warning or symptoms.
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide and affects about 4 million people in the U.S. Glaucoma is a major health issue because most people do not know they have this condition.
With early discovery and treatment of glaucoma, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss or even blindness.
Glaucoma is caused by a number of different eye diseases. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises and damages the optic nerve, which causes gradual vision loss and blindness if not treated.
Are you at risk?
Risk factors for glaucoma, such as age, family history, genes and racial origin can’t be changed. But it’s good to know what your risk factors are so you can discuss with your doctor what the best eye care is for you.
Glaucoma can be detected with a comprehensive eye exam, which is important because early detection and treatment of glaucoma can prevent or control vision loss. Eye exams include testing for glaucoma and are done by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. Based on your risk factors, your doctor can talk to you about how often you should have your eyes examined, and what treatment options are best if you discover you have glaucoma.
5 steps you can take to protect your vision
Get regular eye exams
This is the most important thing you can do for your eyes. Because damage to your optic nerve happens very slowly, you probably won’t notice until you realize your vision is pretty bad. And by this stage, the damage to your optic nerve is advanced and you cannot regain the sight you have lost. Regular eye exams help detect glaucoma before permanent damage occurs.
Know your family history
Talk to your family about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since the most common type of glaucoma (called open-angle glaucoma) is hereditary. If members of your immediate family have glaucoma, you will want to work with your eye doctor who will recommend the right screening schedule for your eye exams or the right treatment if you do have glaucoma.
Eye conditions can worsen with cigarette smoking. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and restricts the amount of blood flow to the optic nerve. Cigarette smoke also contains many harmful chemicals, such as pesticides, arsenic, cyanide, and more. These toxins circulate throughout the body and cause damage to the optic nerve and other parts of the eye which contribute to glaucoma damage. So do your eyes a favor and stop smoking. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Limit ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
While we’re fortunate to enjoy a great deal of sunshine in San Mateo County throughout the year, glaucoma can cause eyes to become sensitive to light and glare. To alleviate symptoms, take measures to reduce the amount of light entering your eyes such as wearing a big hat and 100% ultraviolet blocking sunglasses when outside.
Wear eye protection.
Serious eye injuries can lead to glaucoma. Wear eye protection when you use power tools or play high-speed racket sports on enclosed courts.
You only have got one pair of eyes. Treat them well and they’ll see you through many healthy years of living.