Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging your optic nerve – the one that sends information from your eyes to your brain. When glaucoma damages your optic nerve, you begin to lose patches of vision, starting with peripheral vision, then your straight-on sight. Glaucoma is sneaky; you may not notice a loss of peripheral vision until your sight is pretty far gone. Once lost, vision can’t be restored.
More than 2.7 million Americans age 40 and older have open angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma. At least half don’t even know they have it.
When checking for glaucoma, eye doctors look for damage to the optic nerve, loss of peripheral vision, and may also check the pressure in your eyes.
West Salem Vision Center uses a GDx Nerve Fiber Analyzer, which has been shown to provide very early detection of glaucoma. The GDx is a scanning laser that measures the thickness of the nerves in the eye. The test is brief and painless and gives Dr. Rossman critical information that is not provided by traditional methods.
Your risk of glaucoma is determined largely by your age, ethnicity, family history and medical history. Latinos and African Americans are statistically more likely to have glaucoma, as are those of Asian and Native American descent. The risk increases after 60 years of age for all ethnicities. If you have a close relative who has glaucoma, high pressure in your eyes, a previous eye injury, are nearsighted or have used steroids for a long period of time, your risk is greater than the general population.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month – a good time to consider your relative risk, and talk to Dr. Rossman if you are concerned.