Many of the tests in a standard eye exam are designed to detect glaucoma, a collection of disorders involving progressive damage to structures at the back of the eye (including the optic nerve head and retinal nerve fiber layer) and resulting vision loss. Over 3 million Americans have glaucoma with nearly half unaware that they have the disease. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in both the African-American and Hispanic/Latino communities, and it is the leading cause of preventable blindness for all Americans.
Risk factors for glaucoma include the following:
- African-Americans over 40 years old
- All people over 60 (especially those of Hispanic/Latino descent)
- Asians (for Angle Closure Glaucoma)
- Elevated intraocular pressures
- Family history of glaucoma
- Prior eye injury
In early stages of the disease, there are no symptoms. Without routine eye exams, glaucoma can go undetected until significant, irreversible vision loss occurs. Studies indicate that up to 40% of vision can be lost before any symptoms develop. With proper detection and management, glaucoma can be treated with minimal loss of vision.
Schedule your annual eye exam today to make sure that you do not have this potentially blinding disease! And help spread the word to all your family and friends, especially those who are at risk for developing glaucoma.
-Steven Wang, OD