6 Myths About Glaucoma
It’s a new year and that means that January has come around again. Around here, we love January, because it means we can talk about a super serious issue that could affect your vision and quality of life.
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to get to know a little more about the nation’s leading cause of blindness. That said, there are a lot of assumptions and myths out there regarding glaucoma. We’re here to make sure you know the real story – your vision depends on it.
If you have great eyesight, you won’t develop glaucoma symptoms.
So you see your eye doctor every year and, every year, your vision is a perfect 20/20. That means you’re safe from the risk of vision loss, right? Well, not when it comes to glaucoma. In fact, glaucoma is often called “the silent thief of sight” because it rarely shows any noticeable symptoms until the disease is in advanced stages.
And you could be at risk of glaucoma even if your vision has not changed in years. Even as you suffer vision loss, your eyes and brain are very good about compensating for these vision changes – so good, in fact, that you may never notice your vision changing.
Unfortunately, when it comes to glaucoma, the longer the disease goes untreated, the worse the effects. It’s imperative to get comprehensive eye exams on a yearly basis to ensure any signs of glaucoma are detected by your skilled ophthalmologist.
Glaucoma only affects older people.
If you thought that only the elderly are at risk for developing glaucoma, think again. The truth is, all ages, sexes and ethnicities are at risk for the disease, and in fact, one in every 10,000 babies is actually born with glaucoma.
Additionally, other children could have eye diseases that lead to secondary glaucoma. That said, people over age 60 are more at risk for the disease, but don’t assume that you’re immune from glaucoma because of your age.
Elevated eye pressure is the only thing that causes glaucoma.
If you’ve learned anything about glaucoma symptoms, you likely already know that elevated eye pressure is a major risk factor of developing the disease. In fact, this eye pressure can actually cause glaucoma. That said, “normal” eye pressure levels do not make you immune to the disease.
Glaucoma is often diagnosed in patients who show “normal” eye pressure levels. If you’re unsure of your eye pressure levels, talk to your eye doctor. A comprehensive eye exam can help determine eye pressure levels and diagnose ocular hypertension. If you are diagnosed with ocular hypertension, your eye doctor can treat it, which will lower your risk of developing glaucoma symptoms significantly.
There’s nothing you can do once you have glaucoma.
Because glaucoma symptoms is not curable, many people mistakenly assume there’s no point in diagnosing and treating the disease. This is, however, a devastating myth. In fact, there are many effective medications, surgeries and treatments on the market today that can not only help you preserve your vision but also improve your quality of life.
Your eye doctor can help to slow the effects of the disease after accurately diagnosing it. While treatment doesn’t guarantee that glaucoma symptoms will not worsen, treatment is the best way to increase your chances of preserving your vision.
Glaucoma is strictly genetic.
If you thought that you’re safe from glaucoma simply because no one in your family has had the disease, that is, unfortunately, a myth. While it’s true that certain forms of glaucoma are hereditary, we often see patients who have developed glaucoma symptoms, while no one else in their family has suffered from the disease.
That’s why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends all adults (even those with no signs or symptoms of eye disease) have a dilated eye exam at age 40. That said, if you do have a family history of glaucoma symptoms, be sure that your eye doctor is aware of this, and is well-versed in your medical history.
Turn January into your healthiest month. Ask us how you can guard yourself against glaucoma today.