Glaucoma Awareness | Safeguard Your Eyes

Chances are, if you have glaucoma, you don’t even know it. And the consequences of not detecting it can be serious.

Glaucoma affects more than three million Americans according to the American Optometric Association. Over half of these people don’t even know that they have it, according to Prevent Blindness American.

“Glaucoma begins by attacking peripheral vision,” Dr. Jason Bleazard, CBHA Eye Care Director said. Objects might appear slightly blurry. Patients try to compensate by squinting or turning the head to focus better.

Glaucoma occurs when the fluids that nourish the eye do not drain properly resulting in a build-up of fluids which increases pressure on the eye. This causes damage to the optic nerve.

“When patients come in for their annual vision check-up, we evaluate the health of their eyes and clarity of vision,” Dr. Bleazard said. “We also can detect chronic and systemic diseases such as glaucoma, diabetes and even hypertension (high blood pressure).Glaucoma is particularly troubling because patients don’t notice any vision loss until nearly 90 percent of the optic nerve cells are deteriorated. Because of this it is sometimes called the silent thief of vision. As Eye Care providers, we can see these changes in the eye long before a patient can. Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but, if diagnosed and treated early, it can be controlled.”

These changes may seem minor at first. However,” warns Dr. Bleazard, “glaucoma can accelerate quickly, causing eyesight to rapidly and irreversibly deteriorate.”

The only current treatment for glaucoma is to lower intraocular pressure (IOP), which can be achieved with eye drops, laser, or incisional surgery. Eye drops are the most common treatment modality and, over time, patients may need to take multiple types of eye drops in order to stop progression of a disease that typically has no symptoms.

The American Optometric Association recommends that you start the New Year off right by setting up an appointment with your eye doctor – and also suggests you hit the gym and maybe pick up a salad on your way home. To schedule an eye examination with one of CBHA’s optometrists, call 509-488-5256.