World Glaucoma Week and you
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. The disease is a progressive degeneration of the optic nerve, the connection between the eye and the brain, which results in permanent vision loss. Damage to the optic nerve results in the development of blind spots. These blind spots develop gradually in a person’s peripheral vision and often go undetected until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. More than 2.25 million people in the country over the age of 45 have glaucoma and half of these are undiagnosed.
“Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection leads to earlier treatment which can significantly delay or stop further visual loss” says Steve Mansberger, M.D., Legacy Devers Eye Institute. “While anyone has a 2.3 percent lifetime risk of glaucoma, those with a first degree relative with glaucoma, are ten times more likely to also get the disease.”
People at risk for glaucoma also include those older than 40 years of age, those of African-American descent and anyone who has had a previous eye injury. Regular exams are recommended every 1-2 years for people over the age of 65 and every 2-4 for ages 40-64. People with risk factors for the disease who are between the ages of 20 and 39 should be screened every 3-5 years. An exam should include glaucoma optic nerve testing, intraocular pressure and checking for angle closure with gonioscopy.