Eye Doctor in Chicago | Dougal, McClellan, Sullivan, & Ethington Eye Associates
Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over the age of 40. In honor of National Glaucoma Awareness Month, here’s what we think you should know about this sight-threatening eye disease.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve, usually due to high pressure within the eye, called intraocular pressure (IOP). Left untreated, glaucoma can lead to irreversible vision loss, known as ‘tunnel vision,’ and eventually blindness.
The ‘Silent Thief of Sight’
This serious eye condition is known as ‘the silent thief of sight’ as it is often diagnosed too late to avoid irreparable vision loss. This is because glaucoma does not cause pain or any obvious symptoms until the eye has been extensively damaged. The only way to reduce your risk of permanent vision loss is to undergo regular comprehensive eye exams starting from the age of 40, even if you show no symptoms.
Who’s at Risk?
Certain factors can increase your risk of developing glaucoma:
- Age — your risk of developing glaucoma increases with age. Because this is true for several eye diseases, it is recommended that adults undergo yearly comprehensive eye exams beginning at age 40. This is usually the age when early signs of eye disease are detectable and changes in vision may begin.
- Family history — people who have a close relative (parent or sibling) with glaucoma are up to 9 times more likely to develop the disease.
- Nearsightedness — myopia, or nearsightedness, increases a person’s risk of developing glaucoma. The higher the myopia, the higher the risk.
- Ethnicity — The African American and Hispanic populations are 3 times more likely to have glaucoma than Caucasians. Blindness due to glaucoma is about 6 times more prevalent in African Americans than in Caucasian Americans. Additionally, individuals of Asian heritage have a higher risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma, a sudden and acute form of the eye disease.
- Other health conditions — Having diabetes puts a person at risk of developing glaucoma, and so does sustaining a previous eye injury.
Is There a Treatment for Glaucoma?
While glaucoma isn’t preventable, patients with glaucoma can undergo treatments to successfully control this condition and prevent vision loss and blindness.
Glaucoma treatments include prescription eye drops, oral medications, and a variety of surgeries that reduce inner-eye pressure. Some procedures involve making small incisions in the eye to help fluid drain more easily, thereby reducing the pressure. Alternatively, small devices known as shunts or stents can be inserted into the eye to increase the flow of the fluid from the eye.
How We Can Help
Here’s a fact about glaucoma that may come as a surprise: half of all people with glaucoma don’t realize they have it! That’s why having yearly comprehensive eye exams is critical to detect underlying eye disease and begin treatment as soon as possible.
At Dougal, McClellan, Sullivan, & Ethington Eye Associates, we offer comprehensive eye exams and other eye care services to help keep your eyes feeling and functioning at their best.
To schedule your eye exam, call Dougal, McClellan, Sullivan, & Ethington Eye Associates in Chicago today!