According to the National Eye Health Education Program, glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. People are often unaware that glaucoma has no symptoms in its early stages. If detected early, before noticeable vision loss occurs, glaucoma can usually be controlled and severe vision loss can often be prevented. Vision that is lost from glaucoma cannot be restored.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes glaucoma as a disease that causes fluid to build up in the front part of your eye. That extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, damaging the optic nerve. The most common type is primary open-angle glaucoma. A less common type is angle-closure glaucoma, which occurs when someone’s iris is very close to the drainage angle in their eye and the iris can end up blocking the drainage angle. If the drainage angle gets completely blocked, eye pressure rises very quickly and causes an acute attack that can result in blindness.
The Glaucoma Research Foundation advises five factors be considered during complete eye exams: inner eye pressure, the shape and color of the optic nerve, the complete field of vision, the angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea and the thickness of the cornea. Many people hate the “puff of air” test that measures inner eye pressure by calculating the resistance of your cornea to the air indentation. However, new devices are being developed that can measure this without the puff, so don’t let that keep you from your exam.