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National Glaucoma Awareness Month Reminder: Get Eye Exam

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
National Glaucoma Awareness Month Reminder: Get Eye Exam

If you need to schedule your yearly eye exam, here is your reminder as January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

Three million Americans suffer from glaucoma, making it America’s leading cause of blindness. The disease damages the optic nerve at the back of the eye causing vision loss. Livingston Eye Center’s Holly Pendel called the disease “the silent blinder.”

“You will have it and not know it, and it will slowly blind you, and by the time you realize you have a problem, the damage is almost done, and so, that’s why it is so important to have annual eye exams,” Pendel said.

Pendel said there are no early symptoms of glaucoma. The only way to tell if you are at risk is to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam.

“Because the optic nerve is located in the back of the eye, the only way to get back there is to look through the pupil which is the dark black circle in your eye,” Pendel said. “So, what those drops do is they dilate that pupil making those very large for us to see the back of the eye.”

Pendel said no one is certain what causes Glaucoma, but treating pressure in the eye helps prevent blindness. Pendel said there is no cure.

“Early treatment such as medicine to lower the pressure in the eye, there’s some laser treatments and surgery that often can stop the damage and prevent further vision loss,” Pendel said.

Pendel said anyone can get glaucoma, but older adults are at higher risk. Pendel said no matter how inconvenient, do not skip your dilated eye exam at your yearly eye doctor visit.

“It can cause vision loss and blindness that cannot be reversed,” Pendel said. “In the United States half the people who have it don’t know they do. Some are at higher risk.”

Pendel is Doctor of Optometry.


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