January: National Glaucoma Awareness Month
“The only way to predict if there’s a cloud on your horizon due to glaucoma is to get tested. No matter what the diagnosis, the forecast is for clear vision in the years ahead.”
Willard Scott (American weather presenter, author, television personality, actor, clown, comedian and radio personality)
2 Million Americans
It is estimated that only half of the approximately 2 million Americans with glaucoma are even aware they have it. Glaucoma can be subtle at first, with no fireworks and no flashy symptoms. In the absence of obvious problems, many people do not realize the need for regular exams to check for disease. Ignorance is not bliss in this case–the price could be your vision.
So, what is glaucoma, exactly? It’s a potentially serious visual disease that damages the optic nerve, which is the communication connection between the eye and the brain. Your optic nerve is similar to a bundle of cables or wires (1.2 million nerve fibers!) that transmits information from one device(the retina) to another (your brain). When affected by glaucoma, the optic nerve begins to suffer significant damage. This nerve damage can be associated with high eye pressure, though some people with glaucoma have normal pressure (just too high for their eye to tolerate). If left undiscovered and/or untreated, glaucoma often leads to serious vision loss or possible blindness.
“Most people who have glaucoma don’t notice symptoms until they begin to lose some vision. But vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented if it’s detected and treated in time,” says Dr. Bret Crumpton, one of our fellowship-trained glaucoma specialists. “As part of Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, we urge you to get a complete eye exam if you’re at risk for developing glaucoma.”
Who’s at risk?
- People of African-American, Asian, or Latino descent
- Those with a family history of glaucoma or optic nerve diseases
- Those with health conditions like diabetes
- People with abnormally high eye pressure
- People who have experienced a severe eye injure
So, how do you best protect yourself from vision loss due to glaucoma? Although glaucoma cannot be cured, early detection and treatment may preserve vision. Know your risk factors and have your eyes examined at the intervals recommended by your eye doctor! West Georgia Eye Care Center has two Glaucoma Specialists who have Fellowship Training in Glaucoma; Dr. Bret Crumpton and Dr. Casey Geringer.