Understanding Glaucoma during Glaucoma Awareness Month

As we begin a new year, making resolutions to take better care of ourselves is usually at the top of the list. January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, reminding us how important it is to keep tabs on our eyesight. Whether you’ve worn glasses since childhood or just recently started using corrective lenses for driving or reading, regular eye exams are an important preventive health measure.

A group of eye diseases that come on gradually and often without symptoms, glaucoma is considered a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that three million Americans suffer from the condition. Although it typically affects middle-aged and older adults, people of any age can be affected. If you have a family history of glaucoma, you may be at increased risk. 

Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve in the back of the eye is damaged. Unfortunately, the damage is irreversible and if left undetected, can cause vision loss. The  only  way to get an accurate diagnosis is to get a  comprehensive dilated  eye exam, which is generally recommended every two years. However, you should consider more frequent exams if you:

  • Wear glasses or contacts
  • Have a family history of eye diseases or vision loss
  • Have a chronic health condition that would put you at greater risk

A comprehensive eye exam allows your provider to monitor changes in your vision and detect signs of glaucoma. Although there is no cure, catching a diagnosis early can allow you to seek treatment options to slow the progression of the disease. These include medications, eye drops, and laser or ocular surgery.

If you haven’t seen an eye doctor in more than two years, schedule an appointment today. It’s the month of making resolutions, so resolve to be proactive about your eye health!