Fitness Facts: Glaucoma

January 19, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. You have never heard of glaucoma or simply do not know what it is? Well, I am here to tell you!

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation:

Connie Colbert

“Glaucoma is called ‘the sneak thief of sight’ since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. It is most prevalent among the African American and Latino populations and is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.

More than 3 million Americans and over 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind because of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that cause damage the optic nerve, mainly through increased pressure in the eye. Less frequently, however, the optic nerve is damaged when the pressure is normal.

The optic nerve is a bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers that carry visual messages from the back of your eye (the retina) to your brain. A health optic nerve is necessary for good vision.    

Prevention is the key to keeping the disease from progressing.

What should you look for? If you experience any of the below, visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive exam:

  • Loss of peripheral or side vision:This is usually the first sign of glaucoma.
  • Seeing halos around lights: If you see rainbow-colored circles around lights or are unusually sensitive to light, it could be a sign of glaucoma.
  • Vision loss:Especially if it happens suddenly.
  • Redness in the eye:Sometimes accompanied by pain, which may be a sign of injury, infection or acute glaucoma.
  • Eye that looks hazy:A cloudy-looking cornea is the most common early sign of childhood glaucoma.
  • Nausea or vomiting:Especially when it accompanies severe eye pain.
  • Pain in the eye and in the head:This often occurs in angle-closure glaucoma, a type of glaucoma that can develop quickly.
  • Tunnel vision:You may start to lose vision around the edges of your visual field.

The most common forms of glaucoma mostly affect the middle-aged and the elderly, but glaucoma can affect people of all ages.

There are, however, risk factors that can make you more susceptible to Glaucoma. They include:

  • People of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent
  • People over 60
  • Family members of those already diagnosed
  • People diagnosed with diabetes
  • People who are severely nearsighted

Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.

If you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but there are treatment options if it is detected early enough.

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