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5 Myths About Glaucoma: Test Your Knowledge

Posted Mar 10 2010 11:46am

When my mother phoned me to say that she was diagnosed with glaucoma, I wasn’t especially worried. I thought that it was just an eye pressure issue that she could solve with eye drops.

No muss, no fuss.

When I heard about World Glaucoma Week and World Glaucoma Day, my curiosity got me to read the material on several great websites.

Glaucoma Research Foundation  

Boy, did I learn a lot of shocking information!

1. Glaucoma is a disease of the 80 year old crowd.

Answer: False

While being over 60 is a risk factor, glaucoma affects young children and people 20 to 40 as well as the aged.

2. Glaucoma is a minor disease.

Answer: False

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. It is estimated that 4.5 million persons globally are blind due to glaucoma[1] and that this number will rise to 11.2 million by 2020[2].

3. Glaucoma is always caused by abnormally high pressure inside the eye.

Answer: False

Recent studies have shown that glaucoma is neuropathy or nerve damage to the optic nerve caused by complex factors. While high intraocular pressure (IOP) is a risk factor, even people with normal IOP can have glaucoma. You have a higher risk if you are:

  • African-American
  • Over 60
  • Family members have glaucoma
  • Hispanics, especially 60 and over
  • Asians
  • Steroid users (including inhalants for asthma)
  • Eye injury
  • Severe nearsightedness
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Central corneal thickness less than .5 mm

4. There are always symptoms that indicate someone has glaucoma.

Answer: False

In the majority of cases, there are no advance warnings that someone has glaucoma until loss of vision has started to happen. One type of glaucoma, closed angle glaucoma, comes on suddenly with pain, redness in the eye and nausea. This is a medical emergency that needs to be treated immediately.

Because there are no warning signs in the early stages of glaucoma,  it is very important to get a complete eye exam every year, particularly if you have one or more of the risk factors. Here is a list of free glaucoma screening resources.  Medicare is on this list. Let your parents know.

5. Glaucoma can be cured .

Answer: False

Unfortunately, glaucoma is a chronic degenerative disease with no cure yet. Once vision is lost, it cannot be regained. So, to prevent blindness, it is important to identify the disease early and work to halt or slow vision loss. The latest treatment options are on this page of the Glaucoma Research Foundation website.

So, arm yourself with information and see your eye doctor for a check up. Encourage your family members, young and old, to do the same. It could save your sight!

References:

  1. World Health Organization data from www.who.int/blindness/causes/priority/en/
  2. Quigley et al. Br J Ophthalmol 2006; 90:262-267

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© 2010 CK Wilde. All Rights Reserved. I did not receive any compensation from the websites mentioned in this article. Some of the links on this website connect to affiliate programs that provide a small commission (books from Amazon, for example.) Please feel free to link to this post but you must have prior written permission (please use my Contact form) to reproduce this post either whole or in part.

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