Glaucoma Is a Leading Cause of Blindness: What You Need to Know

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and there’s a good reason to call attention to this condition, which can lead to blindness: the National Eye Institute estimates that the number of Americans with glaucoma will increase by 58% in the next 10 years. 

Glaucoma is, in fact, the leading cause of blindness, and it currently affects about 3 million Americans. Because glaucoma is so serious — it’s even called the “sneak thief of sight” — screening for glaucoma is included in comprehensive eye exams. It’s an important reason why the providers at University Ophthalmology recommend that you come in for regular eye exams.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the term for a group of eye conditions that often leads to blindness. It can affect one eye or both. Symptoms are difficult to detect and come on gradually, usually starting with diminished peripheral vision that worsens with time.

Glaucoma often occurs because high-pressure levels damage the optic nerve, although in rare cases, individuals may not experience high pressure. The damage to the optic nerve affects vision.

The most common type of glaucoma is called open-angle glaucoma, in which your eye doesn't drain fluid properly and intraocular pressure builds up.

Causes and risk factors of glaucoma

High-pressure levels in your eye can occur for many reasons, including:

Risk factors for glaucoma include a family history of the condition, diabetes, vision problems, and thin corneas.

Preventing and treating glaucoma

Once your vision is gone, it can’t be restored. However, if glaucoma is caught early enough, you have options for stopping the progression of your vision loss.

Our doctors check the pressure levels in your eye and screen for glaucoma during a comprehensive eye exam. If an ophthalmologist detects glaucoma, you have a few treatment options, including:

Bottom line: Don’t postpone your regular eye exam. Your eye doctor has the ability to see into your eye and look closely at your optic nerve. The earlier a problem is detected, the better. It could save your vision!

Concerned about glaucoma?

At University Ophthalmology, we are happy to provide comprehensive eye care, and that includes diagnosing and treating glaucoma. If you’re concerned about glaucoma or have questions about the condition, schedule an appointment by calling 773-288-2020. You can also request an appointment at our clinic in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago by using our online booking tool.

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