January is Glaucoma Awareness month, providing us with the perfect opportunity to discuss eye health with our valued patients. If you have not been diagnosed with glaucoma, you may not give much thought to this eye disease. In fact, most people don’t. That is why as many as half of the people who have glaucoma, and have already lost a fair percentage of their vision from it, don’t even know it. That’s right! It has been said that up to 40% vision loss could occur before you become fully aware of the problem. When that vision loss is due to glaucoma, there is no way to restore it. These are the reasons it is important to learn more about this disease, and how to recognize your risk factors.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is categorized in a few different forms. However, all forms affect the optic nerve. This nerve bundle connects, quite literally, the eyes to the brain. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting images from the eye into the brain, where they can be processed and recognized. The various forms of glaucoma cause damage to this nerve, impeding its ability to perform and, slowly, robbing a person of his or her eyesight.
Are you at risk?
During glaucoma awareness month, eye doctors discuss this condition with patients, so they are more aware of their individual risk. Early detection is crucial, and the knowledge of risk goes hand in hand with this. The bottom line is that there is no way to know if you might get glaucoma even if you have none of the listed risk factors. The purpose of data is to help those at a higher risk know it so they can obtain the proper monitoring as they grow older.
- Age is a predominant factor in the development of glaucoma, with the over-60 population six times more likely to suffer this condition than younger adults.
- Ethnicity also plays a role in risk, with African Americans up to eight times more likely to develop this eye disease. Asians, as well, have a higher risk for closed-angle or normal-tension glaucoma.
- Individuals with a family history of glaucoma have a significantly higher risk for their eye health.
- Individuals with any condition that increases intraocular pressure have a higher risk for glaucoma.
- An injury to the eye may increase the risk for glaucoma, either soon after the injury, or years later.
At Aloha Eye Clinic, we offer friendly service that sees you through the risks for glaucoma and other eye diseases. Schedule your visit with us in Kihei or Wailuku.