January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and Brownwood Regional Medical Center along with local Ophthalmologists, Dr. Carol Boren and Dr. Larry Wood want to remind you that early detection of Glaucoma requires a comprehensive eye exam and is recommended for those ages 40 and over. Early detection and treatment combined with lifestyle choices can help protect your sight.

Unfortunately, Glaucoma affects about 3 million people in the United States according SafeVisionTexas.org. It is one of the leading causes of vision loss, because there are no symptoms early on. Once vision is lost to glaucoma, it cannot be regained. Sadly, about half of the people with this disease do not know they have it.

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. Typically, the disease progresses slowly, gradually destroying peripheral vision. Because people are unaware of early peripheral vision loss, a patient can lose most of it before they even know they have glaucoma. 

That’s why SafeVisoinTexas.org and the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that everyone have a comprehensive eye exam at age 40. This exam provides ophthalmologists – physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care – an opportunity to carefully examine the eye including the optic nerve for signs of damage and other possible problems that may affect vision. Individuals at greater risk for developing glaucoma include people:

• over age 40;

• of African, Asian or Hispanic heritage;

• who have high eye pressure detected during an eye exam;

• who are farsighted or nearsighted;

• who have experienced eye trauma or eye injury;

• whose corneas are thin in the center;

• or who have health problems such as diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure or poor blood circulation.

Appropriate treatment for glaucoma depends on the specific type and severity of the disease. Medicated eye drops or laser treatments are the most common initial approach. These treatments lower eye pressure to reduce the amount of fluid in the eye.

Brownwood Regional Medical Center reminds you, if you are ages 40 or above or have been experiencing eye discomfort, make that appointment now. Early detection of eye diseases may help save your eyesight.