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New Year’s Resolution: Prioritize Your Eye Health 

It’s that time of the year again – New Year, new resolutions! As we jot down goals to become the healthiest and happiest versions of ourselves, let’s not forget a crucial aspect often overlooked – eye health.

January happens to be Glaucoma Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to include an overdue eye exam in your list of resolutions. 

What is Glaucoma? 

Glaucoma is a disease that damages your optic nerve.  It typically results from fluid buildup inside of your eye.  That extra fluid increases your intraocular pressure causing damage to the optic nerve.  The optic nerve’s job is to transfer visual images from your eye to your brain.  Any damage to it may lead to permanent vision loss.   

How Serious is Glaucoma? 

To sum it up in a word, serious. Glaucoma poses a significant risk of irreversible vision loss. Detecting it early is crucial for preserving vision. Timely awareness and intervention play a pivotal role in addressing this condition in its initial phases. 

Wouldn’t I know if I was getting Glaucoma? 

Not necessarily. Often referred to as the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma, especially the common Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma, presents no early warnings. There’s no pain, no discomfort, or blurred vision until it reaches a more advanced stage.  Waiting for symptoms to arrive leads to irreversible vision loss. 

But how many People actually have Glaucoma and don’t know? 

A considerable number. Nearly 3 million Americans have glaucoma, and shockingly, half of them are unaware of it. The absence of early symptoms leaves patients oblivious to the condition until it reaches an advanced stage, resulting in permanent vision loss. 

Who is at risk for Glaucoma? 

Certain factors increase the risk of developing glaucoma, such as being over 40, having family members with glaucoma, having an African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage, having high eye pressure, previous eye injuries, or having thin corneas

How do I know if I have Glaucoma? 

A comprehensive dilated eye exam is the most effective way to diagnose glaucoma. Regular eye exams play an essential role in early detection. 

What happens if I find out I have Glaucoma? 

Glaucoma is often managed through the consistent use of eyedrop medications. These drops work by lowering the intraocular pressure in your eyes. Some achieve this by decreasing the production of aqueous fluid, while others enhance the flow of fluid through the drainage angle. Using these drops daily is a proactive way to control eye pressure and prevent further damage. 

Laser trabeculoplasty can be a great option in place of or along with medication. During this painless procedure, a laser is used to improve the functionality of the drainage angle. This enhancement ensures proper fluid outflow, reducing eye pressure.  

As you commit to prioritizing your eye health in the new year, keep in mind that proactively taking prescribed medications and contemplating laser treatment when deemed necessary can play a vital role in safeguarding your vision. Your ophthalmologist will be your trusted guide, navigating you through these options based on your specific needs.  

So, this year as you sign-up for the gym membership, perfect that green smoothie, and become the pickleball champ we all need in 2024, take the proactive step of scheduling that long-overdue eye exam; your eyes will undoubtedly thank you.  

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