Could You Have Glaucoma and Not Know It?

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When it comes to the natural process of aging and its side effects, one of the main concerns that most people have has to do with their eyesight. One of the biggest offenders, glaucoma, is extremely prevalent in our society, with an astonishing estimate of 4.2 million Americans having the condition — yet only half of these individuals actually know it.

 That’s right: This silent offender is simply not on the radar for many seniors. Even though it is so common and widespread, many individuals and their doctors are not taking the precautions and action that is needed to help prevent or halt the onset of the disease. Are you looking after your eyes? You should be making it a major health priority.

 According to the National Institutes of Health, glaucoma is the second leading reason for blindness around the globe. In fact, the condition is behind 12% of all blindness cases here in the United States alone. That is a staggering number for one condition to be pulling in all on its own.

 Since January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, we want to bring you some information on the condition and inform you of how it can be prevented. For starters, you need to determine if you are at risk. If any of the following points describe you, then you should definitely consult with your doctor immediately:

 — Are you 60 or older? — Do you have a family history of the condition? — Have you ever had a serious eye injury? — Are you over 40 and African American? — Are you severely nearsighted? — Are you Hispanic? — Do you have an adverse health condition such as diabetes?

 Next, let’s discuss what glaucoma is, exactly. The term glaucoma actually blankets several eye diseases that are associated with damage that has been caused to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is vital to your sight — it plays a vital role in the way that visual information is transferred to your brain.

 One way that the optic nerve can get damaged is excess pressure in the eye, which escalates due to a number of causes. This leads to a loss of peripheral vision, which can then advance to tunnel vision. If you don’t seek out help for this, then it can lead to a complete loss of eyesight. Know that the loss of eyesight due to glaucoma is not reversible.

 According to Dr. Andrew Iwach, MD, elevated pressure in the eye can have severe repercussions, with glaucoma being a major threat. Not knowing that you are susceptible to the condition can have grave repercussions. As Dr. Iwach explains, “Knowing you have glaucoma is one of the most important factors in treating the disease and preventing vision loss. So many people are losing their sight and simply do not realize it. Glaucoma is a treatable disease. Vision loss can be minimized. Those who are potentially at risk must take the first step and get an eye exam.”

 Glaucoma can be controlled with the help of medication and even surgery, but when it comes to saving your vision, prevention and knowledge truly is key here. You must get your vision checked on a routine basis in order to ensure that you are safe from glaucoma. Speak to your optometrist today about setting up an appointment to check out your vision — you’ll be glad you did.