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Glaucoma Is A Thief That Steals Your Sight

Air Force Medical Services

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month..

As much as 40 percent of vision can be lost without a person noticing. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Glaucoma is an eye disease that damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain.

Dr. Ann Wonderling is the president of the Wisconsin Optometric Association says there is a reason why glaucoma can be troubling..

"No symptoms, so that is why it is considered the 'sneak thief of sight'. You can lose your eyesight without realizing it...."

Glaucoma affects about 3 million Americans. She explains the disease progression...

"..Glaucoma damages the very center of the optic nerve first. The problem is the very center of your optic nerve correlates with your peripheral or side vision. Your optic nerve, if the center is being damaged, you could lose a lot of your side vision before you realize, 'I don't see over to the side'. It damages your vision from out to in..."

She says getting regular eye exams is important and your eye pressure will be measured along with other tests. Dr. Wonderling says the disease is more common with older adults, but she says she has several glaucoma patients in their 40's and 50's. She says if diagnosed early it can be treated using eyedrops.

Risk factors include a genetic component, smoking, have diabetes is another risk factor. She says an annual eye exam is important, even if your vision seems to be ok.

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