January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 7:03 PM EST
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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. In this week’s Medical Monday, Kathy McCarty has more on how glaucoma affects eyesight and how to treat it.

Glaucoma is a major public health issue, according to Dr. Fran McCartney, who says it’s the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.

“Glaucoma’s caused by the damage of the optic nerve. So the optic nerve is the connection between your eye and your brain. The optic nerve takes light signals from your eye and transmits - transmits it to your brain and allows you to see,” says Dr. Francinia McCartney, Comprehensive Ophthalmologist with Northern Light Eye Care.

Dr. McCartney says every eye has a drainage system, but with glaucoma, there’s a problem with that system.

Dr. McCartney says, “In a healthy eye, what happens is the fluid that your eye produces is drained out of your eye. But in those persons with glaucoma - especially open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type of glaucoma - the drain doesn’t work well. And so there’s excess fluid in the eye, and so this excess fluid causes damage to the optic nerve.”

Most individuals will exhibit no signs or symptoms, especially those with open-angle glaucoma.

“In the early stages, people don’t know they have it. It’s only in the late stages when they notice peripheral vision loss. And so that’s why we call glaucoma the silent thief of sight, because people only know about it when they have significant damage,” she says.

Glaucoma is most commonly seen beginning around age 50, and can be hereditary. Managing care may include medications, eye drops, laser treatment, or surgery.

“There is evidence that persons who have siblings who have glaucoma are three times more likely to have glaucoma. So it’s good to know your family history. So if you have a sibling with glaucoma, you should definitely seek out an eye health care provider to have a baseline eye examination,” says Dr. McCartney.

For more information, contact your eye care provider. Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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