January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, a bundle of nerve fibers behind your eye that carries visual information between the eye and the brain. In glaucoma, optic nerve fibers gradually die, and blind spots in the vision develop. If not detected and treated, those blind spots silently grow and start to affect vision. There are different types of glaucoma, but most cause no symptoms as they develop. The damage caused is not reversible, and eventually blindness can result. Checking for signs of glaucoma is painless and involves examining the optic nerve and checking eye pressure.
What does it mean to be “aware” of glaucoma? Educating yourself and others about the condition is a start. What you read today and share with a loved one may make the difference in them having good vision or not losing the sight they have. Awareness involves being proactive in your own health care, getting medical and eye exams for prevention rather than waiting for problems, and asking questions of your doctor when you do.
What can you do in January for Glaucoma Awareness Month? Get a glaucoma check with an eye doctor recommended by a friend, family or your primary physician, or go to a free glaucoma screening. Bring a friend or two… and spread the word! You can be a part of making blindness from glaucoma a thing of the past.
By Dr. Daniel Stegman