Within the next five years, it is estimated that 80 million people will suffer from the eye disease known as glaucoma. There are currently over three million glaucoma sufferers in America, but half of them don’t know it because there are practically no warning symptoms to the disease.
What causes glaucoma? Poor drainage of a person’s eye can lead to eye pressure which eventually damages the nerve that connects the eye to the brain (the optic nerve). This leads to loss of vision and, if left untreated, will lead to total blindness.
What are the symptoms of glaucoma? This disease usually progresses so slowly that sufferers are unaware of changes in their vision before damage has already occurred. It is usually the loss of side vision (peripheral vision) that is the first thing noticed by the patient.
Who is most at risk to get glaucoma? The first factor in who is at risk is age. The older you are, the greater the risk. Race is another factor. African- American, Hispanics and Afro-Caribbean peoples are more likely to get glaucoma. They are also more likely to get it at a younger age. The third factor is family history. If either a parent or sibling develops glaucoma, your chances are higher that you will also get the disease. The fourth factor is diabetes. Diabetics have a 40 percent higher chance of developing glaucoma. The fifth factor is nearsightedness. Nearsighted people are at a greater risk of developing glaucoma. The fifth factor is eye injury or eye surgery which could cause the development of secondary glaucoma. The final risk factor is people on steroid medication for prolonged periods of time. These may increase the risk of glaucoma.
The treatment of glaucoma is done with any of these procedures:
(1) Eye drops to lower the eye pressure.
(2) Laser therapy to increase the drainage of fluids within the eye.
(3) Eye surgery which will create a new drainage canal.
If not treated, glaucoma will lead to total blindness. The disease is easily detected with an eye exam. Ophthalmologists measure the pressure inside the eye with a quick and painless test.
During Glaucoma Awareness Month health officials stress the importance of preventative measures which amount to deterrence techniques. These include eating a healthy diet high in vitamins C, E, D ,A plus omega-3 fatty acids, cession of smoking, exercising, keeping your blood pressure at a normal level, protecting your eyes by wearing sunglasses and regular visits to your eye doctor for comprehensive eye exams.
For more information on Medicare benefits for glaucoma services, please call the Kabb Law Firm at 216-991-KABB (5222).