Glaucoma is an eye disease that slowly and painlessly steals away your sight. Glaucoma is called the “silent” or “sneak thief” of sight because it has no symptoms. However, it is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States, and half of the people who have glaucoma do not know that they have the disease and are not aware that they are going blind.
Early detection, through regular and complete eye exams, is the key to protecting your vision from damage caused by glaucoma.
It is important to have your eyes examined regularly. Your eyes should be tested:
- Before age 40, every two to four years
- From age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
- From age 55 to 64, every one to two years
- After age 65, every six to 12 months
Anyone with high-risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35. The following are people that are at higher risk for developing glaucoma: African Americans, people over 60, family members with glaucoma, Hispanics in older age groups, Asians, steroid users, and those who have suffered an eye injury. Other risk factors may include high myopia (nearsightedness), hypertension or central corneal thickness less than 0.5mm.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, there are effective treatments that can save your sight. If you have glaucoma, it is necessary to have regular follow-up visits to your eye doctor. It is important to have at least two or three visits every year.
Today the only treatments available are those that lower the intraocular pressure. Lowering eye pressure can be accomplished using medicines, lasers, or surgery. Treatment needs to be carried out for life. Glaucoma can be controlled, but there is currently no cure.
When medication is used, eye drops are usually prescribed. Some of the drops only need to be used once daily, while others need to be administered two to three times per day.
Lasers have been shown to be as effective at first treatment as eye drops. This is a simple, mostly painless, quick procedure that can control eye pressure for a period of up to 5 years in some patients.
Many surgeries are available and newer ones are being constantly developed and evaluated. Most of these are reserved for patients with more advanced glaucoma, but some newer surgeries are safe enough for use earlier in the disease.
Choice of treatment depends on many factors, which are unique to each patient and should be discussed with your doctor. Correct treatment usually will protect against further vision loss.
If you think you may be at risk for glaucoma and wish to be tested or have already been diagnosed and are seeking treatment, our doctors at Kentucky Eye Institute can help you. Call us to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor today. Our optometrists and ophthalmologists are located in Lexington, Corbin, Cynthiana, Jackson, Maysville, Middlesboro, Morehead, Mt. Sterling, Paintsville, and Versailles.