By our Smarty friends at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A.
Your parents go to the doctor to ask about any aches and pains or notable changes in their health, but do they ask about conditions with no signs? Many conditions, from strokes to glaucoma, don’t have symptoms, but it’s just as important to talk to your parents about symptomless conditions as those with obvious signs.
Luckily, January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so let’s discuss talking to your parents about this disease.
Glaucoma is an optic nerve disease often called the “silent thief of sight” because there usually aren’t symptoms until the disease has progressed. The optic nerve is made up of many nerve fibers inside the eye, and transmits images you see from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma damages those fibers, which can cause blind spots and vision loss if left untreated. It is often, but not always, caused by a buildup of pressure in the eye when fluid cannot drain properly, but the exact cause is not known and can have multiple factors.
People who are over the age of 40 are at risk of glaucoma. Risk factors also include:
– Diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation or other health problems affecting the whole body
– African or Hispanic heritage
– Corneas with thin centers
– A family history of glaucoma
– Farsightedness or nearsightedness
About 2.7 million people in America have glaucoma, but only half of them know that they do. There are often no symptoms in the early stages of glaucoma, so early detection is important. In fact, by the time people do notice changes in their vision, the damage is already severe.
This is why it’s important your parents get regular eye exams. During the exam the doctor checks for eye diseases like glaucoma. If it is detected, a treatment plan can be developed and their eyesight can be protected.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, it can be treated to lower eye pressure or prevent further vision loss.
“Having glaucoma doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have blindness,” CEENTA Ophthalmologist Robert Flores, MD, said. “Treatments like medicines, eye drops, lasers, and surgery are designed to stabilize the eye pressures and can keep patients seeing for the rest of their lives. However, patients have to maintain this treatment indefinitely to be successfully treated.”
Help your parents live as healthy lives as possible. Talk to them about getting checked for glaucoma today.
To make an appointment for an eye exam, call 704-295-3000.