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Glaucoma takes vision without warning

POSTED: February 24, 2010 11:24 a.m.
Glaucoma, often called the “sneak thief of sight” because it can strike without pain or other symptoms, is a leading causes of blindness in the United States.
Most Americans incorrectly believe glaucoma is preventable, according to the newest survey by the American Optometric Association. Although it’s not preventable, early detection and treatment is critical to maintain vision. If diagnosed early, doctors can control glaucoma with prescriptions and surgeries.
Glaucoma occurs when internal pressure in the eye increases to cause damage to the optic nerve, leading to loss of nerve tissue and resulting in vision loss.
Anyone can develop glaucoma; however, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, African-Americans older than 40, anyone older than 60, diabetics and people with a family history of glaucoma are at the greatest risk.
Since vision lost  cannot be restored, the best way to detect glaucoma is by having regular, comprehensive eye exams. An exam should include an eye pressure test and dilation of the eyes, which allows a doctor to see the retina, optic nerve and vessels in the back of the eye. Often, more tests may be necessary to determine if glaucoma is present.
In addition, patients at risk for glaucoma can receive eye examinations and required testing as a benefit of their medical insurance, including Medicare.
 

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