Glaucoma can steal your sight before you even realize it, and early diagnosis is the best way to prevent it.
Many of the 3 million Americans who have glaucoma are unaware of it because they have no symptoms, according to the Glaucoma Foundation. In glaucoma, a buildup of fluid in the front part of the eye increases pressure and damages the optic nerve.
Here are seven key facts to know about glaucoma:
Most forms of the disease have no symptoms and vision changes don’t happen right away. Once eyesight is lost, the damage is permanent
Glaucoma can strike at any stage of life, not just in old age. In fact, about 1 baby in 10,000 is born with the condition
While family history is a risk factor, just because your family doesn’t have glaucoma doesn’t make you risk-free. Everyone in the family should be tested if there’s a family history
Black folks are six times more likely to have glaucoma than white Americans, and it starts years earlier, often with greater loss of vision. Asian people are also at high risk and glaucoma is more common among Hispanic Americans than once believed
Elevated pressure inside the eye is a risk factor for glaucoma, not the disease itself. In some of the more than 40 forms of glaucoma, elevated eye pressure is not involved. The common link is damage to the optic nerve
Blood pressure and eye pressure are two different things. Even if your blood pressure is under control, your eye pressure may not be, but the two are often related. Low blood pressure is strongly linked to some forms of the disease
Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Nine in 10 causes of glaucoma-related blindness could have been prevented with treatment. That’s why it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly
The National Eye Institute has more about glaucoma.
SOURCE: The Glaucoma Foundation, news release, Dec. 27, 2023
What This Means for You
A regular eye exam can provide protection against and treatment for glaucoma, a disease that can lead to blindness.
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