January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Imagine a disease that can permanently decrease your vision by 40 percent without you noticing. Sadly, this is a reality for more than 2.7 million Americans. The disease is glaucoma and since there are virtually no symptoms, nearly half of the people who have it, don’t know that they do … until it’s too late.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. While there is no cure for glaucoma, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease and the best way to protect your vision and eye health is through an annual comprehensive dilated eye examination.

If glaucoma is suspected, your optometrist may recommend the following tests:

  • Visual acuity test. This eye chart test measures how well you see at various distances.
  • Visual field test. This test measures your peripheral (side vision). It helps your eye care professional tell if you have lost peripheral vision, a sign of glaucoma.
  • Dilated eye exam. In this exam, drops are placed in your eyes to widen, or dilate, the pupils. Your eye care professional uses a special magnifying lens to examine your retina and optic nerve for signs of damage and other eye problems. After the exam, your close-up vision may remain blurred for several hours.
  • Tonometryis the measurement of pressure inside the eye by using an instrument called a tonometer. Numbing drops may be applied to your eye for this test. A tonometer measures pressure inside the eye to detect glaucoma.
  • Pachymetryis the measurement of the thickness of your cornea. Your eye care professional applies a numbing drop to your eye and uses an ultrasonic wave instrument to measure the thickness of your cornea.
  • Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is a laser scan of the optic nerve and can detect the earliest signs of Glaucomatous damage.
  • Visually Evoked Potential (VEP) is a test that uses sensors to detect how long it takes for the eyes to send a signal to the brain. The VEP is very new technology and has been shown to help diagnose Glaucoma earlier than ever before.

Glaucoma that is detected early enough can be managed and controlled to dramatically slow down the disease to prevent further damage.  Since there are no symptoms until the later stages of disease progression annual checkups and early detection are the key.

If it has been more than a year since your last eye exam, give us a call and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment for you.

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