Celebrating Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve in the eye becomes damaged over time. Each eye has an optic nerve. This nerve acts like a cable sending information about what you see to the brain. This is just like a cable to your television. Without treatment, glaucoma causes vision loss. This vision loss is usually very slow. At first, the vision loss will be a loss of sensitivity in your peripheral vision. As the disease progresses, vision loss can be severe- as if you were looking through a McDonald’s straw. You may have heard that glaucoma is caused by high pressure inside the eye. While eye pressure does play a role in glaucoma diagnosis and treatment, you can have normal eye pressure and STILL have glaucoma.

How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Glaucoma is first suspected during a dilated eye exam. Next, your eye care provider will examine each optic nerve and evaluate the health of the nerves. If the nerve tissue appears thin or there are significant differences in appearance between the two optic nerves, your doctor may identify you as a glaucoma suspect. Family history and your eye pressure are also important indicators of your risk. Your race may also be considered; statistically speaking, Black /African-American people are more likely to have one type of glaucoma, whereas Asians are more likely to have another.

Once your doctor identifies you as suspicious for glaucoma, they will likely schedule you for baseline testing. This testing is not scary, painful, or invasive. You may repeat this testing several times over several years before being diagnosed with glaucoma, and there is also a chance that you will never develop glaucoma.

Treating Glaucoma

If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, you absolutely want to know what can be done to preserve your vision. The thing to know about glaucoma treatment is that the focus is on lowering your eye pressure. Lowering the eye pressure is protective against further glaucoma damage. Your doctor will decide on a target eye pressure. There are several prescription eye drops available to lower your eye pressure. If eye drops are not for you, certain laser procedures are also available as first-line treatment options. In many cases, vision loss can be avoided in glaucoma if you are consistent with your treatment schedule and keep your appointments with your eye doctor to monitor for progression.

The doctors at Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida can assist you with your glaucoma needs and other eye health issues; call us today at 800-282-3937 to schedule an appointment. 

Bio: Dr. Courtney Beaumont is a Board-Certified Optometrist who practices at the Lakeland-Highlands location for Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida.  

This column is sponsored by Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFHN or of its advertisers. 

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