How often during the day do you use your eyes? Most of us can’t count the number of times we use our vision every day.
Now picture how different your day would be if you had a vision problem.
About 3.4 million Americans age 40 and older have a significant visual impairment. That’s enough people to populate a mid-size city in every state.
A sizable percentage of these folks — about 2.2 million — have glaucoma.
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that have one thing in common: They can damage your eyes’ optic nerves and potentially lead to blindness.
The optic nerves are the million or so nerve fibers that carry visual messages from your eyes to your brain.
Glaucoma typically happens when the fluid pressure inside your eye slowly rises. The increase in pressure usually happens because the natural flow of the fluid in and out of the eye is interrupted. Essentially, the fluid flows in, but it doesn’t flow out at the same rate.
However, some types of glaucoma develop without an increase in the eye pressure.
The tricky part about glaucoma is that some forms don’t have any warning signs.
Getting regular eye exams is the best way to catch and begin treatment of glaucoma. Although it isn’t curable, diagnosing and treating glaucoma early can help slow its progression. Seeing an eye care professional is essential for diagnosing and treating glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is known as the silent thief of sight. You may not notice any change in vision until the damage is severe.
Once this form of the disease has advanced, you may notice:
Normal tension glaucoma develops without an increase in eye pressure. However, with this form of the disease you may notice:
Angle-closure glaucoma can develop without symptoms. When signs do emerge, they can come on suddenly and include:
You should have a comprehensive eye exam every two years. It's even more important if you're in one or more of these risk categories.
If you have questions about your eye health, see your eye care specialist. You can find a provider online. On the “Find a Doctor” page, add your City/ZIP to find the providers nearest you.
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