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Screening and Prevention are the Best Medicine

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you are probably familiar with the “puff of air” test you receive during your regular check-ups. While this test may be slightly uncomfortable for a moment, it’s a test that can save your eyesight.

This test screens for glaucoma, an eye disease that affects approximately two million people over the age of 40. However, approximately half of the people with glaucoma don’t realize they have it. The most common form of glaucoma does not present any symptoms until perma nent damage is already done. Therefore, regular screenings are the most important way to prevent blindness caused by this disease.

Seeing the Facts

Glaucoma actually refers to a group of related disorders. The primary problem with glaucoma is elevated intraocular pressure, which means that the pressure of the fluid inside your eye is too high. Normally, the fluid in your eye filters in and out through channels where the iris and cornea meet. If for some reason this drainage system is blocked or damaged, the fluid pressure inside your eye increases, potentially leading to damage to the optic nerve and a reduction in vision.

The causes of glaucoma aren’t entirely clear, but research has shown that certain people have a higher risk of getting it. Below are the factors that increase your chances of getting glaucoma.

  • Elevated intraocular pressure. This is the first sign that you may be developing glaucoma. However, not everyone with elevated intraocular pressure will develop glaucoma.
  • Age and ethnic background. People over sixty have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, and Mexican-Americans have a higher risk at this age than Caucasians. Additionally, African-Americans have a higher risk at an earlier age, starting at about 40.
  • Family history. If you have a close relative that has been diagnosed with glaucoma, your risk of having glaucoma increases.
  • Medical conditions. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressures and hypothyroidism can increase your chances of having glaucoma.
  • Certain eye conditions. Severe injury to the eye, tumors in the eye, and certain types of eye surgery can trigger glaucoma.
  • Corticosteroid usage. If you have used corticosteroids, especially in eye-drop form, for an extended period of time, your risk for glaucoma increases.

Looking Ahead

Although regular eye screenings are recommended for everyone, the frequency of your check-ups depends on individual factors. If you have any of the risk factors listed above, or if you can’t remember the last time your eyes were checked, it might be a good idea to schedule a visit with your eye doctor now. Depending on your KelseyCare Advantage plan, all or part of your visit may be covered.

If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that glaucoma cannot be cured, and any damage to your eyesight that has already occurred cannot be reversed. However, the good news is that there are treatments available that can stop or slow further vision loss. If you are diagnosed early – before any vision problems are noticeable – chances are good that you will not lose your vision.

To schedule a visit with an eye care professional at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, please call (713) 442 0000, or click here to receive a call from a representative that can help you schedule an appointment.