Known as the silent thief of sight — glaucoma — a chronic, progressive disease that leads to damage of the optic nerve, is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, more than 2.2 million Americans are affected, but only half of those know they have it. While it is typically a disease that affects older adults, anyone — including children — can be affected.
“Early diagnosis, prior to the development of any symptoms, is the most important factor in preventing vision loss,” said UPMC Eye Center glaucoma specialist, Kimberly Miller, MD. By diagnosing early, eye doctors are able to tailor the treatments and help slow progression of the disease.
Having regular eye exams is an important part of maintaining good eye health. During your eye exams, the doctor will discuss risk factors including:
- Family history
- Medical conditions
- Prolonged use of certain medications
- Elevated ocular pressure
If you are diagnosed with glaucoma there are a number of different treatment options available ranging from eye drops to medication to surgery.
In recognition of World Glaucoma Week (March 9-15), Joel S. Schuman, MD, chair of the UPMC Eye Center, is encouraging people to find out if they’re at risk. Dr. Schuman explains, “Glaucoma can be stopped in its tracks or dramatically slowed down with proper treatment – but, we need to see the patient in order to diagnose and treat. You can only beat glaucoma with regular eye exams and appropriate management.”
To find out if you’re at risk, call 412-647-2200 to schedule an appointment with one of our eye doctors.