National Glaucoma Awareness Month is an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages. Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma, and experts estimate that half of them do not know they have it.
How does glaucoma affect your vision?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, blind spots appear when glaucoma damages the fibers of the optic nerve. If the entire nerve is destroyed, you can become completely blind in that eye. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers that carry images to the brain. It is like an electric cable, with many wires bundled together.
When there is more damage to the optic nerve, larger blank spots begin to appear in your vision field. Many people do not notice these blank spots until the optic nerve is significantly damaged and these spots become large.
This unnoticed vision loss is why people with glaucoma or at risk of glaucoma should have regular eye exams.
Below is a Glaucoma Vision Simulator created by the American Academy of Ophthalmology:
New Year – New Health Goals
There is hope for future glaucoma patients. Although there is no cure for any form of glaucoma, early diagnosis and treatment can help control the disease and slow the process of vision loss or blindness. As you are writing your New Year goals, kickstart your New Year health goals, and add an eye exam to your priority list. The Eye Center of North Florida is your BEST resource for lifelong eye health.
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Source: American Academy of Ophthalmology