January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month so reading this column is a good start! Glaucoma is an eye condition caused by damage to the optic nerve in the back of the eye. It is often but not always associated with increased eye pressure. The optic nerve carries information from your eye to your brain. If it is damaged then irreversible vision loss may occur. Unfortunately, glaucoma has no symptoms until up to 40% of vision has been lost.
Over 2.2 million Americans have glaucoma but up to 50% are unaware of it. Glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable blindness but first the appropriate diagnosis must be made. It is treated with eye drops, lasers and sometimes surgery. Glaucoma risk goes up with age; if a family member has the condition; and in those with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
How is it diagnosed? This requires regular complete eye examinations with dilating drops at least every one to two years. As noted above, eye pressure is not always elevated so eye pressure checks at Health Fairs are not adequate. The dilation part of the exam is to look at the optic nerve. If the eye pressure or optic nerve are abnormal, extra testing is indicated to assess side vision and to digitize the optic nerve appearance to be able to check for changes over time.
Don't become a statistic! Call for your complete eye examination today if you have been neglecting this aspect of your health care.
Visit www.LakeShoreVision.com for more information.
Call 262-241-1919 for appointments.
Dr. Martha Jay is a Board Certified Ophthalmologist practicing since 1992 in Mequon and Saukville, Wisconsin. She received her ophthalmology training at Northwestern University in Chicago and now specialized in medical and surgical eye care.