When it comes to good eye health, prevention is the magic word. While some eye conditions like cataracts are treatable and reversible, many eye conditions can cause permanent eye damage. One of the leading causes of blindness in the world is glaucoma, a family of diseases that is characterized by elevated eye pressure that damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for sending visual images to the brain, but increased eye pressure can place stress on the optic nerve and interrupt that communication between the eye and the brain.
The most common type of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma, which can develop slowly and painlessly. Unless you are scheduling routine comprehensive eye exams with your physician, you could be developing degenerative eye disease without knowing it. In fact, glaucoma is often referred to as the “sneak thief of sight” because it often has no symptoms in the early stages. One of the first warning signs of glaucoma is peripheral vision loss, but it is sometimes too late at that point. Permanent vision damage often has already occurred.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. Doctors and researchers continue to seek innovative treatments and devices that will help patients manage intraocular pressure, but there is no way to reverse vision damage. Therefore, the best way to preserve your eyesight is through prevention. Comprehensive eye exams require about one hour of your time, but they are a valuable resource to you in protecting your vision. If you have begun to develop an eye disease or vision-related condition, your ophthalmologist will be able to detect the condition during your exam and begin treatment as soon as possible.
If it has been longer than a year since your last comprehensive eye exam, call your ophthalmologist. An eye exam is the best way to ensure healthy vision, disease prevention and prompt treatment. Remember, a thorough eye exam benefits much more than just your vision; it is a window to your overall health!