January 18, 2016

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.  Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises.  There are often no noticeable symptoms in the early stages.  Left untreated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness.  It is one of the main causes of blindness in the United States.  Although anyone can get glaucoma, the following people are at higher risk:
•African Americans over age 40
•Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
•People with a family history of glaucoma

Photo: A picture of two boys as seen by someone with 'normal' vision

Photo: The same picture as it might be seem by someone with Glaucoma

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease.  Normally, clear fluid flows in and out of small space at the front of the eye called the anterior chamber. This fluid bathes and nourishes nearby tissues.  If this fluid drains too slowly, pressure builds up and damages the optic nerve.  Though this buildup may lead to an increase in eye pressure, the effect of pressure on the optic nerve differs from person to person.  Some people may get optic nerve damage at low pressure levels while others tolerate higher pressure levels.  Please click on the image below for a short video about the cause of glaucoma:
If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly.

You can also help protect the vision of family members and friends who may be at higher risk for glaucoma—African Americans over age 40; everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans; and people with a family history of the disease.  Encourage them to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years.  Remember that lowering eye pressure in the early stages of glaucoma slows progression of the disease and helps save vision.
The Western Blind Rehabilitation Center (WBRC) is a 27-bed residential facility located at the Menlo Park Division of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Approximately two hundred veterans and active duty service members of all ages participate in the program each year. More than three quarters have usable vision for which specialized treatment is provided. Adjusting to and managing visual impairment is the major objective of the program. If you are in the area and are interested in a site visit, please call (650) 614-9952 to make arrangements.

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