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5 Things You Didn't Know About Glaucoma

Many of our patients have heard about glaucoma, but don’t really know much about it. Given that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, we wanted to bring you some up to date information about the eye disease.


What Is Glaucoma?

Per the American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Glaucoma is a disease that damages your eye’s optic nerve. It usually happens when fluid builds up in the front part of your eye. That extra fluid increases the pressure in your eye, damaging the optic nerve.” It can lead to vision loss and even blindness. To help you better understand who it affects, how common it is and whether you can prevent glaucoma, here are some lesser-known facts.

1. Glaucoma is prevalent.

Close to 3 million Americans, aged 40 and older, have glaucoma. This number is expected to grow by more than 200% by 2050. In other words, this is a disease that affects a lot of people and is worth paying attention to.

2. Anyone can develop it, but there are a few risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood.

Technically, anybody can end up with glaucoma. But, the people who are most at risk are African Americans over the age of 40, people over the age of 60 (particularly Mexican Americans) and folks with a family history of the disease.

3. There’s only one way to catch it early.

A comprehensive eye exam, in which your doctor puts drops in your eyes to dilate the pupils, is the one way that medical professionals can identify early signs of damage and indicators of glaucoma. If you’re at a high risk of developing glaucoma, plan to have a comprehensive eye exam every year.

4. New treatment methods are being researched and tested.

Traditionally, the go-to method for treating glaucoma involves using eye drops that lower intraocular pressure. But, the NEI is currently funding research to test a drug-dispensing contact lens that could offer a new, easier method of treatment.

5. Prevention is complicated.

If you’re looking to prevent glaucoma, there isn’t one course of action to take or a single contributing factor you can eliminate. But, you also don’t have to be passive about prevention. Since eye pressure is a major risk factor for glaucoma, you can take steps to lower it by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and limiting caffeine.

None of this is guaranteed to prevent the disease, and it’s worth noting that glaucoma can develop without increased eye pressure, but these eye care tips are worth trying. Not only can they make your eyes healthier, but they can make you healthier too.

Ready to schedule your annual comprehensive eye exam? Request an appointment here!