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Resolve to Prevent Glaucoma in 2016

Glaucoma 20Eye 20Diagram

This year, make healthy eyes and vision your resolution. Find out if you or a loved one is at risk for glaucoma, and take steps for prevention.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable vision loss and blindness in adults in the United States and Canada and the second leading cause of blindness in the World. Projections show that the number of people with the disease will increase by 58% by 2030. These facts however could change with proper awareness.

When detected in the early stages, glaucoma can often be controlled, preventing severe vision loss and blindness. However, symptoms of noticeable vision loss often only occur once the disease has progressed. This is why glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight”. Unfortunately, once vision is lost from the disease, it usually can’t be restored.

Risk Factors

Prevention is possible only with early detection and treatment. Since symptoms are often absent regular eye exams which include a glaucoma screening are essential, particularly for individuals at risk for the disease. While anyone can get glaucoma, the following traits put you at a higher risk:

  • Age over 60
  • Hispanic or Latino descent, Asian descent
  • African Americans over the age of 40 (glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans, 6-8 times more common than in Caucasians.)
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Diabetics
  • People with severe nearsightedness
  • Certain medications (e.g. steroids)
  • Significant eye injury (even if it occurred in childhood)

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve due to an increase in pressure inside the eye or intraocular pressure (IOP). Treatments include medication or surgery that can regulate IOP and slow down the progression of the disease to prevent further vision loss if detected early. The type of treatment depends on the type and the cause of the glaucoma.

What are the Symptoms?

Most times glaucoma does not have symptoms. There is no pain unless there is a certain type of glaucoma called angle closure glaucoma. In this case, the channel of outflow gets crowded then blocked, causing foggy, blurred vision, halos around lights, headache and even nausea. This is a medical emergency and should be assessed immediately as the intraocular pressure can become extremely high and cause permanent damage within hours.

Most forms of glaucoma have an "open angle", which is not so urgent, but does need compliance with the treatment plan (which is sometimes difficult as some of the glaucoma drops have uncomfortable side effects). Once vision loss develops it typically begins with a loss of peripheral or side vision and then progresses inward.

What Can You Do To Prevent Glaucoma?

Because there are no symptoms, regular eye exams are vital to early detection. If you have any of the above risk factors or you are over 60, make a yearly comprehensive eye exam part of your routine. Make sure that your eye doctor knows your family history and any risk factors that are present.

A comprehensive eye exam can determine your risk of developing glaucoma; if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma and have concerns about your treatment, it is best to speak openly with your doctor. Remember, a simple eye doctor’s appointment on a regular basis could save your vision for a lifetime.

Due to the rapidly evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, and to continue our commitment to the safety of our patients and community, Vintage Optical will be postponing all routine eye care visits. We will continue to be available for all essential and emergency care during this time.

 

While our office will be closed for non-medical care, there are a few ways we can help with other eye care needs at this time:

If you are scheduled for a non-medically necessary visit in the upcoming weeks, we will call you to postpone your exam to a later date. We ask for your understanding and appreciate your help in reducing the spread of infection in our community.

 

In light of this need to limit community exposure, Vintage Optical will be working with an accelerated telemedicine program to provide certain urgent care needs to our patients from their home.

 

If you have an urgent eye care need, please do NOT go directly to the emergency room, but call our office at 309-263-8611. If appropriate, we will schedule a virtual visit with one of our doctors to address your needs and do our part in protecting our community. If your eye care needs would be better addressed in person, we will continue to be available for in-office emergency care throughout this crisis. As always, if you have a life-threatening emergency, please call 911. We appreciate your help in reducing the burden on emergency departments and urgent care centers during this time.

 

We have wonderful patients and love seeing you in our office, and while this is yet another inconvenience during an already stressful time, we're doing everything we can to limit the effects of this pandemic on our community.

 

-       Drs. Velting, Sommer, and the entire team at Vintage Optical