January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month and the perfect time to spread information and awareness about this sight-stealing disease. More than 3 million people in the United States suffer from glaucoma and that number will continue to increase significantly. This symptomless disease is not preventable and as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
Early detection. Our comprehensive eye exams will include tests for glaucoma, including a simple and painless procedure that measures the internal pressure of your eye. During the exam, your doctor will also examine the health of the optic nerve and measure your field of vision.
Our glaucoma specialist, Thandeka Myeni, MD, MPH is board- certified, fellowship-trained in both glaucoma and cataract and refractive surgery and utilizes the latest in diagnosis, treatment and surgical options.
The earlier glaucoma is detected, the easier it is to treat!
What are Risk Factors for Glaucoma?
Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.
What causes glaucoma?
Glaucoma is often hereditary but it can also be caused by medications, prior eye surgeries, or an injury to the eye. The most common type of glaucoma is called open angle glaucoma. The first symptoms of this condition are often patchy blind spots in your peripheral vision. In an advanced stage of this type of glaucoma, you might experience tunnel vision. A less common form of the disease called, acute angle-closure glaucoma, often has a more rapid onset. You should seek immediate medical care if you experiencing a combination of some of the following symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Eye pain
- Blurred vision
- Haloes around lights
- Eye redness
With a diagnosis of glaucoma, it’s best to follow up with an ophthalmologist who specializes in glaucoma at regular intervals to determine the best course of treatment and ensure that your treatments are working effectively. All glaucoma treatments are aimed at protecting the patient from further, irreversible vision loss. Daily eye drops that help reduce the pressure in your eye are typically the first line of treatment followed by laser treatments and incisional surgical procedures.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, these treatments can slow its progression and prevent further vision loss to reduce the likelihood of significant visual disability resulting from the disease over a patient’s lifetime. If you are due for a glaucoma screening, make a resolution to reach out and schedule an appointment with Dr. Thandeka Myeni, MD, MPH at 301-896-0890 or request to schedule online.