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What Else You Should Know About Glaucoma

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and this is Todays Vision's second blog about glaucoma. This is what else you should know about glaucoma. What are the risk factors for glaucoma? Like many diseases and conditions, glaucoma is more likely to occur in older people. This is why it’s important for people over age 40 to have an annual comprehensive eye exam from a qualified eye doctor. You are more likely to develop glaucoma if you: • Are over 40 • Have family members who have glaucoma • Are of African-American or Hispanic descent • Have elevated IOP • Are nearsighted or farsighted • Have had an eye injury • Have diabetes, migraines, or blood circulation problems However, as noted earlier, it is not easy to predict who will develop glaucoma. How is glaucoma diagnosed and treated? If your doctor detects elevated IOP or otherwise suspects you might have glaucoma, he or she will order some tests to diagnose glaucoma. These may include a visual fields test, which measures your peripheral vision, and an imaging test, which will assess the thickness of your optic nerve. These tests are painless, and provide important information the doctor needs to assess your eyes and vision. The first line of treatment for glaucoma is prescription eye drops that help to control or lower IOP. These must be taken daily, and the doctor may have to adjust the dosage or type of prescription eye drops in order to achieve the desired effect. Eyedrop medication may have side effects such as stinging or itching when instilled, red eyes, dry mouth, blurred vision, or eyelash growth. Glaucoma medication may also interact with other medications, so be sure to tell your eye doctor about all medications you are taking. If eyedrop medication does not control or lower IOP, your doctor may recommend a laser procedure, which usually is performed in the doctor’s office. A trabeculoplasty is sometimes performed for those who have Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma, and an iridotomy is sometimes performed for those with Narrow-Angle Glaucoma. There also are operating room procedures that may include implanting tiny devices. All of these procedures are designed to improve drainage of fluid, thus controlling or lowering IOP. Once you have received a diagnosis of glaucoma, it’s very important to follow the doctor’s instructions, including returning to the doctor’s office as often as recommended. Because glaucoma is not easy to predict, the doctor must monitor each individual carefully in order to develop a treatment plan that works best for that person.