Keep Your Eyes Healthy in 2023
Article verified by Martin Seremet, M.D., Ophthalmology
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and we would like to remind everyone to have regular eye exams to determine if patients may have the disease. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness world-wide, everyone is at risk, and there may be no symptoms early in the disease. It is estimated that 3 million Americans have glaucoma and only half are aware of it. Regular eye exams and catching glaucoma early can prevent eye damage, and today there are treatments available to protect your vision.
Glaucoma is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve due to increased pressure in the eye. Our eyes consistently create fluid, but for the eyes to remain healthy, as fluid enters the eye the same amount needs to drain from the eye to maintain proper eye pressure. When the drainage angle is flawed and drainage doesn’t keep up, pressure in the eye builds and can damage the optic nerve leading to vision loss. Unfortunately, many patients do not experience any symptoms from the issue until it is too late and damage has been done. This is why regular eye exams are so important. Your eye doctor can measure the pressure in your eyes to determine if a problem is indicated.
There are two types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common and happens gradually. Closed-angle glaucoma is when the iris of the eye is too close to the drainage angle of the eye and blocks it. In this case, the onset of symptoms can be very sudden and severe.
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but certain factors do increase the risk. Anyone over 40 is more at risk, those with a family history, and those with other serious health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can also have an increased risk. It is always best to speak with your healthcare provider about your personal risk factors.
The best protection against falling prey to the onset of glaucoma is regular eye exams. Based on your age and risk assessment, your provider can guide you on how often you should be examined. Moderate exercise has also been shown to decrease or help regulate eye pressure. Staying active is important for many reasons, including eye health. Lastly, it is important to always protect your eyes in threatening situations to avoid an eye injury. Always wear eye protection when engaging in activities that may put your eyes in danger.
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma there are treatments available to manage the disease. While there is no cure, certain medications (eye drops) and laser can help maintain eye pressure. In more serious cases, surgical options are available to improve draining in the eye and decrease pressure.
It is easy to forget to schedule check-ups for our eyes when nothing seems to be wrong. Please be sure to get your eye exams even when your eyes appear normal to you. Do not let glaucoma sneak up on you. Once glaucoma causes damage, that damage is permanent.
If you need an eye doctor, Starling Physicians has ophthalmology offices in New Britain, Wethersfield, and Bristol. Visit starlingphysicians.com to find the office nearest you.