January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month
January is national Glaucoma Awareness Month. Here at Georgia Eye Partners we strive to keep you, our patients, informed about diseases that can affect your vision and ways to prevent and treat these serious eye conditions. We believe patient education is a key to happy, healthy eyes. Please read below to learn more about glaucoma and then call to schedule an eye examination, especially if you have not had one in a while.
Glaucoma awareness is so important because glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. It is estimated that over 4 million people in the US have glaucoma and sadly, over half of them don’t even know they have it.
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye, resulting in decreased vision over time. It is usually, but not always, associated with elevated pressure in the eye. Glaucoma is a genetic disease. If you have a family member with glaucoma, your chances of developing the disease increase by a factor of 10! However, there are also forms of glaucoma that are not genetic, so a negative family history does not put you in the clear. Glaucoma can be diagnosed at any age, but the risk of developing it increases as you get older. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause complete and permanent blindness within a short time period.
Glaucoma is so dangerous because most people do not realize they have it. Most people have no pain from the increased eye pressure. They do not notice vision loss because glaucoma first takes away peripheral vision that we do not rely on as much as central vision. When people finally realize they are losing vision, the disease is usually already advanced.
Therefore, it is vital to see your ophthalmologist on a regular basis so glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before permanent vision loss occurs.
What to expect at your eye exam:
- You may be given eye drops to dilate your pupils. Your doctor can look at the inside of the eye when the pupil is dilated.
- A test called tonometry is done to check eye pressure. Remember, eye pressure can be normal in some people with glaucoma. This is called normal-tension glaucoma. Your doctor will most likely need to run other tests to confirm glaucoma if there is evidence of the disease.
At Georgia Eye Partners, we are proud to have a glaucoma specialist, Dr. Parul Khator. Dr. Khator specializes in detecting, treating, and educating you about this serious eye condition. Whether or not you have symptoms of glaucoma, it is important that you have a regular eye exam. This holiday season we will all gather with family and friends. Now is a great time to talk about this disease with those you love. Make sure an appointment with your ophthalmologist is on your New Year’s resolution list for a healthy, happy 2013.