Column: Dangers of glaucoma can be eye-opening


January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and the doctors at Cincinnati Eye Institute need your help to spread the word about this sight stealing disease.


In the United States, more than 2.7 million people over the age of 40 have glaucoma, but half of those people don’t know they have the disease. This is because, in most cases, there are no symptoms at first. In fact, as much as 40 percent of vision can be lost without a person noticing, and unfortunately, once vision is lost it can’t be restored. This is why glaucoma is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight.”


Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States. In technical terms, it is a group of diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in a gradual loss of vision. Without treatment, patients with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral, or side vision, so that they seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains. With treatment, loss of vision can be slowed, and in some cases even stopped altogether.


There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can be controlled. Early detection and treatment are the keys to protecting your eyes against vision loss. So, what can you do? The simple answer is, make an appointment for a full eye exam. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no signs or risk factors for eye disease get a baseline eye disease screening at age 40 – the time when early signs of disease and changes in vision may start to occur. Based on the results of this screening, your eye doctor can prescribe treatment, or suggest intervals for follow-up exams.


For those who have already been diagnosed with glaucoma, we need your help, too. We encourage you to talk to family and friends, and have a conversation about the disease. This is especially important because those with a family history of glaucoma are at a higher risk of developing it.


For National Glaucoma Awareness Month, the doctors at Cincinnati Eye Institute would like to encourage you to learn more about your eye health. While age, race, and family history are important risk factors to consider, anyone can develop glaucoma. If you haven’t had your eyes checked in a few years, consider scheduling an appointment with your eye doctor. If you think you are at risk, we encourage you to take action. Don’t let glaucoma sneak up on you. After all, your sight depends on it.


Curated from Column: Dangers of glaucoma can be eye-opening