THE TERM “GLAUCOMA” refers to a group of diseases that damage your eye’s optic nerve over time. A bundle of more than 1 million nerve fibers, the optic nerve is housed at the back of the eye and is responsible for transmitting messages from your eye to your brain.
Glaucoma usually develops as a result of elevated pressure within the eye. In early stages, it rarely causes symptoms. An irreversible change in peripheral vision is often the first warning sign.
Regular eye exams are key to catching glaucoma in early stages when treatments, such as medication or surgery, are most effective in preventing vision damage. The National Eye Institute recommends all adults over 60, African-American adults over 40, and people with a family history of glaucoma have a dilated eye exam at least once every two years to screen for the disease.
Glaucoma isn’t preventable, but certain lifestyle changes may help prevent glaucoma-related complications. Quitting smoking, for example, helps make it easier to control glaucoma-related risk factors, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Exercising is also important—working out at a moderate intensity level at least three times a week may lower eye pressure, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
To find a Summit Healthcare ophthalmologist near you, visit summithealthcare.net/find-a-doctor.