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South Jersey Eye Physicians

Serving South Jersey’s eyes since 1971

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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month                                       

Half of Those with Glaucoma Don’t Know It; Are You At Risk?

Approximately 2.7 million Americans have the potentially blinding eye disease glaucoma, but only half are aware of it. Meanwhile, glaucoma incidence is on the rise. Researchers predict that glaucoma will affect as many as 6.3 million Americas by 2050. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and the American Academy of Ophthalmology are sharing a list of risk factors that can lead to the disease.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which links the eyes to the brain. It is most commonly associated with elevated pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure, or IOP. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause irreversible vision loss in a person’s side vision, then in his or her central vision. With early diagnosis and treatment, sight can be preserved. However, glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms in its early stages, so it is imperative that people know the risk factors.

Certain factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing glaucoma, including:

Additionally, when the cornea – the clear, round dome on the front of the eye that covers the iris and pupil – is abnormally thin, IOP readings may be falsely low. This puts patients at increased risk for undiagnosed glaucoma. This is common among those who have had refractive surgery, such as LASIK or photorefractive keratectomy. Another risk factor associated with glaucoma is a history of eye trauma.

“Many of my patients are surprised to learn that one or more of these factors put them at an increased risk,” said Andrew Iwach, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and glaucoma specialist. “Being aware of your personal risk of glaucoma is the first step to saving your sight. If you are at risk, get an exam from an ophthalmologist – the sooner you do, the better we can protect you from vision loss.”

Glaucoma treatment ranges from medicated eye drops to a variety of surgeries that can help reduce high IOP. This may involve procedures that make small changes in the eye to help fluid drain more easily. In some cases, small devices knowns as shunts or stents are inserted in the eye to increase the flow of the eye’s fluid.

People age 65 or older and concerned about their eye disease risk may be eligible for a medical eye exam at no out-of-pocket cost through EyeCare America™. In addition, those who are at an increased risk for glaucoma may also qualify for a glaucoma exam through EyeCare America. This public service program from the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology matches volunteer ophthalmologists with eligible patients in need across the United States. To see if you, your friends or family members are eligible, visit www.eyecareamerica.org.

To learn more about glaucoma, its risk factors and its treatment, visit www.geteyesmart.org.

Please contact us today for more information or to schedule an evaluation with our skilled and knowledgeable team of vision experts. Request an appointment online or call 1-800-380-0111.

Posted on January 01, 2016