Q: Is there anything that I can do to prevent glaucoma as I get older?

A: It is wonderful that you are thinking about glaucoma prevention! Glaucoma is actually the second-leading cause of blindness in the entire world. Glaucoma is often referred to as a “silent thief of sight” because it is estimated that the disease affects over 4 million Americans, yet only about half realize that they have it. Glaucoma, however, can be treated effectively if it is caught early on. This is why prevention is crucial!

Glaucoma is a disease that affects and puts pressure upon the optic nerve. Optic nerve damage results in loss of vision, and ultimately blindness. The increase of pressure or intraocular pressure can damage the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain. If damage to the optic nerve from high eye pressure continues, glaucoma will cause permanent loss of vision. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years.

Most of the time, glaucoma can be detected during a routine eye exam. So the best way to prevent the disease is through early detection and treatment. It is important to have regular eye exams with your ophthalmologist so that if glaucoma is detected, it can be controlled. Treatment can range from eye drops to surgery, with a goal of controlling the intraocular pressure.