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Glaucoma and You: A Clearer View of Prevention and Risk Factors

Glaucoma is an eye condition that impacts over 60 million people worldwide. According to the Mayo Clinic, glaucoma is more common in older adults and is the leading cause of blindness for people over the age of 60.

It’s reported by the Glaucoma Research Foundation that by the year 2030, an estimated 4.2 million Americans will suffer from glaucoma.

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Dr. Jeremy Roach, Director of Optometry at the Stigler Health and Wellness Center in Stigler, Oklahoma, talks about glaucoma awareness and the detection and treatment options that are available at the Health and Wellness Center.

A Silent Thief

Glaucoma, known as “the sneak thief of sight”, is a group of eye diseases that cause vision loss by damaging the optic nerve that transfers signals from the eye to the brain. Damage to the peripheral vision – your vision that allows you to see out of the “corner of your eye” – is usually the first to suffer from the effects of glaucoma.

Glaucoma causes gradual damage to the vision and can go unnoticed – and therefore untreated – for a long period of time.

“There are a lot of times there are no symptoms until it’s fairly advanced,” Dr. Roach says. “And because of that we have to get in as early as we can to have the eyes examined because there really are not symptoms a lot of times.”

Dr. Roach adds that early glaucoma detection is key because there is no cure for glaucoma and once vision is lost to glaucoma, it can never be restored.

Early Detection with The Latest Technology

With glaucoma symptoms so difficult to detect, Dr. Roach and his team use technology that allows them to examine optic nerve fibers in a patient’s eye to determine if the fibers have been damaged. By examining the optic nerve, Dr. Roach is able to detect the first clues of the onset of glaucoma long before the patient is even able to detect any changes in their vision.

Dr. Roach says that the eye exams are generally noninvasive and are an extremely important part of overall physical care.

“There’s really nothing to be afraid of,” Dr. Roach says. “We’re typically not having to give shots or do anything too aggressive. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Eye care is critical.”

If detected early enough, glaucoma can be treated with simple eye drops or with minor surgical procedures.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

While glaucoma can occur in any one at any age there are multiple risk factors according to the American Optometric Association that put people at a higher risk:

  • Age: People over age 60 are at an increased risk for glaucoma.
  • Medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and heart disease.
  • Race/ethnicity: People of African American, Asian and Latino descent are noted as having an increased risk for glaucoma.

Patient Eye Care is a Personal Mission for Dr. Roach

Dr. Roach has dedicated a 20-year career to bringing eye health and better vision to his patients. For Dr. Roach, eye care is more than a career, it is also a personal mission.

“To be able to provide sight to someone who is having difficulties with vision, whether that be a child or an adult, to help them to be able to see something clearly for the first time is absolutely amazing. I consider it a privilege to be able to offer my services to help people see.”

Conclusion:

You can schedule a simple eye exam that can detect glaucoma by calling the Health and Wellness Center at 1-800-640-9741.

For eye exams, the Health and Wellness Center accepts vision insurance, and in some instances medical insurance, and they also offer a sliding fee scale that can be applied to eye exams and to glasses.

Dr. Roach says that the eye exams are generally noninvasive and are an extremely important part of overall physical care.

“There’s really nothing to be afraid of,” Dr. Roach says. “We’re typically not having to give shots or do anything too aggressive. The eyes are the windows to the soul. Eye care is critical.”

Written by Lance Montgomery

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