Glaucoma is a general term for a family of eye disorders that damages the optic nerve. The elevated pressure inside the eyes creates stress on the optic nerve. When the optic nerve is damaged, you will experience vision loss. In the case of glaucoma, your peripheral vision suffers first and gradually worsens. If left untreated, glaucoma causes permanent blindness.
Many diseases and conditions have symptoms that can prompt you to go to a doctor. However, you do not have that advantage with glaucoma. You can be completely asymptomatic and not have any warning signs until you notice changes in your vision. Sadly, once you notice vision changes, the loss is irreversible.
Early detection through regular and complete eye exams, is the key to protecting your vision from damage caused by glaucoma. A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to help detect glaucoma. During the exam, five different tests will check for the major factors that can lead to a glaucoma diagnosis:
- Tonometry- checks the inner eye pressure
- Ophthalmoscopy- a dilated eye exam that checks the shape and color of the optic nerve
- Perimetry- a visual field test that checks the complete field of vision
- Gonioscopy- checks the angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea
- Pachymetry- checks the thickness of the cornea
Consider these facts about glaucoma:
- There may be over 60 million people worldwide who are affected by glaucoma
- It is estimated that over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of them are aware
- Over 120,000 Americans are blind because of glaucoma, and this number accounts for 9 to 12 percent of all blindness in the United States
- After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness worldwide. Incidence is particularly high among African Americans.
- Risk factors for glaucoma are: people over the age of 60, those who are severely nearsighted and those with family members who have already been diagnosed (Source: Glaucoma Research Foundation).
Schedule your comprehensive eye exam today to assess your risk for glaucoma. Early detection means early treatment, so don’t procrastinate any longer. Your eye health depends on your commitment to regular visits to your eye doctor.