By Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is a very misunderstood disease and most people don’t realize the severity of it, or who can be affected. You may not know some of the following facts about glaucoma.
Glaucoma is responsible for damaging the optic nerves in the eye. These optic nerves are similar to data cables spreading from the back portion of the eye, which carry visual information to the brain. Glaucoma grows when the pressure inside the eye is higher than the eye can tolerate; this strain in time damages the optic nerve.
If you are over age 40, have high blood pressure or diabetes, are of Hispanic or African American descent, or if someone in your family has had glaucoma, you need to have regular eye exams.
It’s not true that only senior citizens are at risk of developing glaucoma. It may also affect younger people as well.
A comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect changes that may occur in the optic nerve during the early stages of glaucoma. If you’re over age 40, you should get this exam yearly.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), there are certain Yoga poses that may increase the intraocular pressure of the eye and should be avoided. Headstand, downward dog pose, and forward bend are some of these poses. Talk to your ophthalmologist about this if you’re a Yoga enthusiast who is dealing with glaucoma.
In its early stages, peripheral vision can be affected, and if left untreated, glaucoma may eventually affect the central vision too, leading to total blindness.
There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can be treated if it is detected during initial stages. Early detection and treatment of glaucoma may help slow its progression and preserve vision.
Mille Lacs Health System cares about you and your eye health. Our visiting ophthalmologist, as well as our optometrists, can make getting your eye exam more convenient. Both kinds of eye clinicians can perform a glaucoma exam.