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Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., but many people don’t know they have it. African Americans and Latinos are 10 times more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians, which means minority populations are at an even higher risk for developing this condition without realizing it.
For these reasons, we kick off the new year by recognizing Glaucoma Awareness Month. Read on as a Lake Stevens, WA optometrist talks about glaucoma and preventative measures you can take to protect your eyes from this disease.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. Basically, it’s a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve in ways that can lead to vision loss if left untreated.
If you have glaucoma, you might not experience symptoms until there’s significant vision loss—and by then it may be too late for treatment to help. Here are some things you need to know about the disease:
There are no early signs or symptoms, so it’s important for everyone—even those without risk factors—to get regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist (an eye doctor).
Early detection allows doctors time to slow down or even stop further damage before permanent vision loss occurs.
African Americans and Latinos are 10 times more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians. This is because they have a greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma.
African Americans and Latinos are more likely to get glaucoma because they are genetically predisposed to develop it. Glaucoma is an inherited condition that runs in families, so if you have a parent or sibling with this disease, you may be at higher risk for developing it yourself.
The only way to prevent open-angle glaucoma is through regular eye exams by an eye doctor who knows how to diagnose this disease early on.
A single test called the Tonopen can be used to detect early signs of glaucoma. This simple, painless exam by an eye doctor uses sound waves to measure pressure inside your eyes—which helps determine whether or not you have glaucoma and need treatment.
If detected early, glaucoma can be treated or managed with medication or surgical procedures. However, once symptoms are present it may be too late to prevent blindness as half of all cases progress without any noticeable warning signs.
If you have more questions or wish to schedule an eye exam, please feel free to call us, your local Lake Stevens, WA optometrist anytime!