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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Resolutions are usually on the top of everyone’s list come this time of year, but how many of you have included an annual eye exam on this list of things to accomplish? With this month being Glaucoma Awareness Month, there’s no better time to test your eyes for this “sneak thief of sight.”

Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness yet 60 million people worldwide are affected. Experts believe that because there are no symptoms, half of the people afflicted might not even realize they have glaucoma. It might start with peripheral or side vision loss and shockingly, as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. This vision loss is caused by pressure damage to the optic nerve. When the canal between your cornea and iris is blocked, fluid begins to build up. However, this pressure cannot be felt and happens slowly over time so by the time glaucoma is detected, the disease has possibly advanced to a stage where damage cannot be reversed.

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection, medication and surgery can prevent further damage. Early detection is key and is a major reason why an eye exam should top the list of your resolutions this year. In addition to the advanced technology offered by the Eye Clinic of Austin, The Glaucoma Research Foundation is an excellent resource for up-to-date medical research and treatments.

As Ophthalmologist Thomas Henderson M.D. explains, “During my training, glaucoma was a horrible disease, blinding half of the patients in one or both eyes.  Today, I tell my patients that my goal is to help them keep all the eyesight they need as long as they need it. We can do this for almost everyone who is detected early and treated aggressively. The most important part of that process is early detection and persistent surveillance, so we can treat early and effectively to prevent vision loss, because we can’t get back any eyesight which is needlessly lost by discovery of glaucoma too late.”