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Sharp Health News

Are you at risk for glaucoma?

Jan. 8, 2019

Are you at risk for glaucoma?

Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” because by the time you realize you have it, you may have already incurred permanent vision loss. That’s why it’s important to understand your personal risk and regularly receive a comprehensive eye exam.

Dr. Ann Lopez, a board-certified ophthalmologist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, answers common questions about this common cause of permanent vision loss.

If my parents had glaucoma, will I have it?

Glaucoma is a disease with genetic risk factors, so there is a good chance that you will be at risk if your parents have or had it. It is a neuro-degenerative condition that often begins as slow, progressive vision loss, usually your peripheral vision.

Other risk factors include:

  • Advancing age — people over 60 are at higher risk
  • Having elevated eye pressure
  • Having a chronic condition such as diabetes, migraines or high blood pressure
  • Having ancestry from particular ethnic groups, including African-American, Asian and Native American

How do I know if I am at risk?

Glaucoma is one of the main reasons why everyone should have a comprehensive eye exam. It’s a silent disease. In other words, it doesn’t cause pain or discomfort. When your eye begins to lose vision from glaucoma, the damage can be extensive. It’s often too late to recover vision.

What can I do to prevent it or slow the progress?

Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam. This is the only and best way to detect glaucoma early. Once detected, you will be referred to a qualified ophthalmologist who treats glaucoma.

Will taking nutritional supplements help protect me?

While there is little evidence that supplements can prevent glaucoma, studies do show that a healthy diet — one that includes plenty of green, leafy vegetables and other foods that contain antioxidants and higher doses of vitamins A and C — can help lower your risk.

Talk to your ophthalmologist if you are in a glaucoma high-risk group or would like to schedule your baseline eye exam when you turn 40. Taking early steps to protect your eyes can lower your risk of vision loss from glaucoma.

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