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Ask the Experts: Glaucoma

by Dr. Luke Barker

My father has glaucoma and I know it runs in families. Can I prevent it?

Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of preventable blindness in the United States and across the world. Since January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, it’s the ideal time to take a closer look at this sight-stealing disease.

There are several types of glaucoma, but the most common type is Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma. With this form, people experience no pain, no symptoms or visual disturbances until the disease has become moderate to severe. The progression of the disease is very slow. As the disease progresses, a patient will notice their peripheral vision decreasing. Once the damage is done, there’s no way to reverse it.

Risk factors include genetics, eye thickness, intraocular pressure (IOP), race, nerve size, history of trauma or inflammation, and overall health, to name a few. Of all the risk factors, IOP is the only one that can be adjusted to prevent disease progression. Prevention is the only real way to prevent the disease from occurring or progressing, and this has several key elements:

  • A comprehensive eye exam with an examination of the optic nerve and IOP measured
  • A thorough medical and family history
  • Measurement of the eye’s thickness
  • A peripheral vision test called a Visual Field Exam (if you are deemed at risk)
  • Detailed images with comparisons of the optic nerves

All these are used to assess your level of risk and to determine next steps in prevention. Thankfully, in our modern era, glaucoma can be successfully managed with medication drops, laser treatments and minimally invasive surgery. Don’t wait until it’s too late to save your precious vision. Prevention is better than dealing with disease.

The experienced eye care providers at Mann Eye Institute can guide you through your risk assessment and help protect your sight. Come see us today and start the new year off with the commitment to See Life Better.

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