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Under Pressure: Are you at Risk for Glaucoma?

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.  Glaucoma is a very serious, vision threatening disease. You can save your sight, by knowing the facts. Are you at risk of developing glaucoma?

The  answer is yes. Anyone can get glaucoma and because of this it is important for every person, young and old to have a regular eye exam. Early detection and treatment are the only answers to preventing the blindness that result from glaucoma.

Having said that, there are a few factors that put certain individuals at greater risk of developing the disease:

  • Over age 40: While glaucoma is known to occur in younger patients, the likelihood increases with age, particularly in those over the age of 40.
  • Family history: There is a genetic factor to the disease, making it more likely that it will occur when there is a family history of glaucoma.
  • Elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP): Individuals that have an abnormally high eye pressure (intraocular pressure) have a dramatically increased risk of developing glaucoma .
  • Latino, Asian or African decent: Evidence clearly shows race is a factor and individuals from Latino, African and Asian backgrounds are at increased risk of developing glaucoma. African Americans in particular are at a higher risk, tend to develop glaucoma at a younger age and have a higher incidence of blindness from glaucoma.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes, particularly when it is uncontrolled, increases the risk of a number of vision threatening diseases including diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
  • Eye injury, disease or trauma: If you have suffered a serious eye injury in the past, your risk of glaucoma higher.
  • Extremely high or low blood pressure: Since glaucoma has to do with the pressure inside the eye, abnormal blood pressure can contribute to an increased risk.
  • Long-term steroid use: Prolonged use of certain corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, particularly in eye drop form, may also increase your chances of getting glaucoma.

Comprehensive eye exams are the key to preventing vision threatening diseases and blindness. If you are under 40 and don’t have any risk factors or symptoms of eye disease you should have an eye exam every two to three years. Anyone over 40 should have a comprehensive exam every year and if you have additional risk factors, you should be tested more often.

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