A friend of mine, not yet thirty-five years old
, was recently confined to her bed for two days because of extreme pressure in her eyes. She got a ride to the optometrist who confirmed what she already suspected: she had glaucoma.
They immediately started talking surgery, but then decided she was a better candidate to start using some prescription eye drops that would relieve the pressure.
I was in shock. I didn’t know that glaucoma was even a real possibility for anyone under the age of 60 (if not older!). So, as I set out to do some research to see how or why my friend ended up with this eye disease, I found out some interesting facts.
1.) Everyone is at risk for glaucoma.
In fact, 1 in 10,000 babies are born with the eye disease in the U.S. Teenagers and other younger adults can get the disease just as an elderly person would. African-Americans are most at risk to get the disease at a younger age. Of course, the highest risk group are those over age 60, young people should not assume they can’t get the disease.
2.) Glaucoma never goes away.
Once you have glaucoma, you can never get rid of it. You can only treat and try to manage its symptoms. This can be done through eye drops, like my friend now uses, or through surgery. Any vision loss as a result of this disease can never be regained. Researchers do continue to search for a cure, but little progress has been made to date.
3.) You may not have symptoms.
My friend was somewhat fortunate in that her eye pain forced her into her optometrist’s office for diagnosis. Some people never experience pain and instead, may begin to gradually lose vision (peripherally most often) and not even notice.
4.) Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness – so get tested!
For this reason alone, it’s important that you always get the glaucoma test when you get your eyes examined. Also, if you experience any injury that gives you a black eye (tennis racket in the head or any kind of hit in the eye) you should also see your optometrist to have your eye pressure evaluated.
If you have been using certain steroids (like those in asthma inhalers) you may also want to be more diligent about getting tested as sometimes the mediation can block the way your eye drains aqueous fluid.
Been a while since you’ve had a glaucoma test? Call your closest licensed doctor of optometry at an America’s Best retailer near you.