National Glaucoma Awareness Month is a great opportunity to spread the word about the eye disease affecting more than 3 million people in the United States. 1According to the National Eye Institute, by 2050 the number of people in the U.S. with glaucoma is expected to increase to 6.3 million. This disease can have no associated symptoms at first, leaving many unaware that they have it. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause total blindness. “Vision loss from glaucoma is not recoverable so it is imperative to be preventative” says Dr. Timothy Quinn, Board Certified Ophthalmologist at Physicians Regional Medical Group. “I recommend an exam every one to two years to catch the disease before vision is lost, and every three to six months for high risk patients and glaucoma patients to stay ahead of any further damage that it may cause.”
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve. It comes in several different forms with the two most common being primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG). Open-angle glaucoma is the more common form, and is caused by the slow clogging of the drainage canals which leads to increased eye pressure. This lifelong condition develops slowly with no noticeable symptoms, earning it the nickname “the silent blinder.”
The less common form, ACG, is caused by blocked drainage canals and develops very quickly. This results in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure with very noticeable symptoms, and demands immediate medical attention.
Treatment options for glaucoma can vary, but generally consist of eye drops and low-risk laser procedures. More severe cases may require surgery, though the recent advent of micro-invasive glaucoma surgery implants and new techniques is encouraging surgical options before greater deterioration and severity of the disease occurs. “This surgery provides treatment in a much less traumatic fashion than more traditional glaucoma surgeries,” says Dr. Quinn.
Dr. Quinn also recommends certain lifestyle changes such as a good diet and exercise to help manage the disease. He also mentions that treating systemic diseases such as cardiovascular, hypertension and diabetes reduces the risk for other events that could worsen visual function in glaucoma patients.
Glaucoma can affect people of all ages, gender and ethnicity, although higher risk factors include older adults, African Americans, and Hispanics. Awareness and regular, comprehensive eye exams are important in maintaining healthy vision.
2The National Eye Institute suggests some of the following ways organizations and individuals can promote awareness during the month of January:
• Reach out to other eye health organizations to join efforts for a bigger, better impact.
• Use social media to post info cards, infographics and videos found in their social media toolkit at www.nei.nih.gov.
• Engage local media organizations
• Reach out to faith-based institutions and groups and encourage them to post information on social media, include PSAs and other messages about glaucoma in their newsletters and on bulletin boards.
Dr. Quinn’s offices are located in Naples at
Physicians Regional – Collier Blvd,
8340 Collier Blvd, and Physicians Regional
Pine Ridge, 6101 Pine Ridge Rd.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 239-348-4221, or visit www.PhysiciansRegionalMedicalGroup.com.