January is National Glaucoma Awareness month, an important time to learn about this sight-stealing disease. Glaucoma is a condition in which elevated eye pressure may damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. Damage to this nerve may lead to permanent vision loss.
Glaucoma often goes undetected because it is a painless condition. Vision loss may progress slowly and not be noticed until the condition is advanced. This is why it is so important to have a screening eye examination. If caught early, treatment may be as simple as using a medicated eye drop to control eye pressure. In this way, vision loss may be prevented. If damage has already occurred, treatment may prevent further damage from occurring.
Individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, or those with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk for glaucoma. Near-sightedness may increase the risk of glaucoma as well. At the Indian Health Service, we recommend that American Indians and Native Alaskans over 50 years of age have an eye examination to screen for glaucoma.
For patients diagnosed with glaucoma, regular eye clinic follow-up is needed to ensure that the eye pressure is controlled. It is important to understand that only an eye doctor can measure eye pressure, screen for glaucoma, and determine which treatment is appropriate for you.
Don’t be blindsided by glaucoma. Schedule an eye examination, today!
Dr. Dara Shahon is the Chief of Ophthalmology at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. She is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Prior to joining the Indian Health Service in 2015, Dr. Shahon practiced general ophthalmology in Scottsdale, Arizona.