I am indebted to Sarah Peel of Vision Works (http://visionworksjersey.webs.com/) for providing me with the following information.
What is Glaucoma?
There are various types of glaucoma but primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), also known as chronic glaucoma, is the most common. It has no symptoms in the early stages, but slowly and painlessly destroys sight if it is not detected and treated. The loss of vision cannot be reversed. The earlier glaucoma is detected, the more successful the treatment. Glaucoma is often not detected as many people have excellent sight initially; glaucoma first affects the peripheral vision, leaving the central detailed vision unaffected until a later stage. Missing parts of visual field may go unnoticed as the less affected eye 'completes the picture'.
Four Key Facts about Glaucoma
1. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness Glaucoma can cause blindness if it is left untreated. And unfortunately approximately 10% of people with glaucoma who receive proper treatment still experience some loss of vision.
2. There is no cure (yet) for glaucoma Glaucoma is not curable, and vision lost cannot be regained. With medication and/or surgery, it is possible to halt further loss of vision. Since open-angle glaucoma is a chronic condition, it must be monitored for life. Diagnosis is the first step to preserving your vision.
3. Everyone is at risk for glaucoma Everyone is at risk for glaucoma from babies to senior citizens. Older people are at a higher risk for glaucoma but babies can be born with glaucoma (approximately 1 out of every 10,000 babies born in the United States). Young adults can get glaucoma, too. African Americans in particular are susceptible at a younger age.
4. There may be no symptoms to warn you With open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Usually, no pain is associated with increased eye pressure. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision. You may compensate for this unconsciously by turning your head to the side, and may not notice anything until significant vision is lost. The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get tested. If you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.
Importance of regular eye tests
Be aware that the likelihood of developing glaucoma and other eye diseases increases with age, so regular eye tests (at least every two years) are essential to ensure early diagnosis and optimum eye health.
Importance of early detection
There are various treatments for glaucoma and fortunately with glaucoma, if detected early and managed correctly the majority of sufferers retain useful vision for a lifetime. Unfortunately if left untreated glaucoma can lead to tunnel vision and, eventually, to blindness.
Need more information?
The international glaucoma association www.glaucoma-association.com has some excellent resources for patients and professionals.
For information locally please contact any qualified optician.
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