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January 17, 2022

Glaucoma: The unseen threat

Don’t let it sneak up on you. 

Like many health conditions, glaucoma is sneaky. Many forms come on without warning. Or the warnings can be so gradually subtle that you may not even notice until it’s reached advanced stages. 

The effects of glaucoma are serious. Untreated, it causes irreversible vision loss and even blindness. 

The good news is that, like many other sneaky diseases, it is detectable by a physician. And the test is relatively simple. 

Now for the all-caps-highlighted-in-bold-print part: When glaucoma is detected early, vision loss can be slowed or even prevented with treatment.

Here are a few frequently cited risk factors:
  • High internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure)
  • Age 60+
  • Hispanic, Asian or Black 
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sickle cell anemia
  • Corneas that are thin in the center
  • Extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • History of eye injury or certain types of eye surgery
  • Corticosteroid medications, especially eyedrops, for extended periods
Here are the symptoms to look for:
  • Halos around lights
  • Vision loss
  • Redness in your eye
  • Eye that looks hazy (particularly in infants)
  • Eye pain
Here’s the recommended exam schedule:
  • Under 40 – every 5 to 10 years
  • 40-54 – every 2 to 4 years
  • 55-64 – every 1 to 3 years
  • 65+ - every 1 to 2 years

One caveat: If you have family members who are being treated for glaucoma, you are potentially at higher risk and may need more frequent exams. 

What to remember:

A Harris Poll found that as many as 64% of Americans self-report an eye problem (blurry or double vision, difficulty seeing at night, etc.), but as few as 13% of us seek eyecare. If you take anything away from what you’ve read so far, be like the 13% and schedule an eye exam, soon!

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