Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of blindness in the world. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, when it is diagnosed and treated early, eye doctors can often slow or prevent its progression so that it doesn’t cost people their vision. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, a time to increase public awareness about this common and serious eye condition. Making an appointment for eye care in Chicago is a good way to participate in Glaucoma Awareness Month and to learn more about your personal risk of the disease. These facts will also arm you with the important information you need to protect your eyesight.
Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma refers to multiple diseases that are associated with optic nerve damage. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of this condition, and occurs when the fluid in the eye is not able to drain properly, causing an increase in pressure. This increase in eye pressure causes damage to the optic nerve. However, glaucoma can occur for other reasons, as well. High blood pressure can damage the optic nerve, and glaucoma can also occur without an increase in pressure in the eyes, as is the case with low-tension glaucoma.
Glaucoma doesn’t cause symptoms in its early stages.
Most people who have glaucoma do not experience any symptoms as the disease develops. Eventually, people may experience a loss of peripheral vision as the first symptom that something is wrong. Once glaucoma has reached this stage, the vision loss that has occurred is permanent. Seeing an eye doctor regularly is the only way to know you have glaucoma before permanent vision loss occurs.
Early treatment may prevent vision loss.
Although glaucoma can cause blindness, it doesn’t have to rob you of your vision. From medicated eye drops to eye surgery, your doctor can provide several treatments that could slow the progression of the disease before you experience vision loss. Because lost vision cannot be restored, an early diagnosis is essential for protecting your eyes. Your eye doctor can recommend how often you should have eye exams, based on your age, risk factors, and current health.