The leading cause of vision loss in America is glaucoma, an incurable disease that is difficult to diagnose. Since there are no early symptoms, half of the people with the condition don’t know they have it until blindness hits. It’s imperative to raise awareness to develop a treatment and, hopefully, a cure for this tricky illness. With January being National Glaucoma Awareness and Eye Care Month, let’s explore some facts and tips about eye health.
Eye Care Through History
Historically, ancient civilizations were keen to protect their eyes. The oldest accounts of eye remedies are traced back to Ancient Egypt. The “Ebers Papyrus” is an ancient medical record that included herbal medicines for eyesight.
The Greeks and Romans would build on this knowledge, then to Arabia, where some of the earliest ocular enhancement tools were created. Without this early medical text, there would be no glasses or modern ophthalmology.
The only way to determine if you have the disease is to get a dilated eye exam. Those most at risk are people over 60 and those with a family history of the condition. African Americans over 40 are also at a higher risk of developing it. The earlier it’s detected, the better chance of treatment plans alleviating the damage.
To diagnose glaucoma, your doctor will likely check five key components of vision:
- First, tonometry to measure the pressure inside of your eyes.
- Second, ophthalmoscopy to examine the shape and color of your optic nerve.
- Third, perimetry to measure your field of vision.
- Fourth, a gonioscopy is to check the angle of where the iris meets the cornea.
- Finally, pachymetry to measure your cornea’s thickness.
These are lengthy tests, but the more thorough the eye exam, the better the chance your eye doctor has of catching the eye disease in its early stages. For that reason, all these examinations are necessary.
Healthy Vision Practices
There are a few ways you can keep your vision healthy. The CDC recommends eating a hearty amount of leafy greens and omega-3-rich foods to protect your eyesight. When you’re outdoors, wear sunglasses. Sunlight can be tough on your eyes, so shade them.
It’s also super important to wear personal protective equipment if you work in construction or an industry where flying debris is common. The last thing you want is a rock to fly into your eye. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends quitting smoking. Following these tips will ensure your eyesight stays in top condition.
Support and Awareness
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with glaucoma, the first step is to understand you are not alone. Find a support group where you can talk about your struggles with the disease. There are online and in-person groups. It doesn’t have to uproot your life. It can be managed, and having a solid network of peers to connect with will make it easier.
Do you want to bring more awareness to eye health in January? You can donate to multiple charities raising funds for research projects. Also, be sure to get your eyes checked or schedule an appointment for a loved one. The new year is the perfect time to set your sights on healthy eyesight.