Focus on eye health helps preserve vision

Focus on eye health helps preserve vision

glaucoma02The onset of a new year has many of us focused on better health and wellness in 2016.  One of the most important appointments you can make for yourself this year is an eye exam to check for glaucoma, a silent vision killer that affects about three million Americans each year.

The National Eye Institute estimates that, by the year 2030, some 4.2 million people will develop glaucoma, which is a 58 percent increase from today’s figures. With an aging population, particularly here in West Virginia, we can foresee a real uptick in blindness if we don’t begin to develop awareness for this disease.

Those with glaucoma often don’t know they have it, which is why annual eye exams are so important.

Although the most common forms of the disease primarily affect those middle-aged and older, glaucoma can affect people of all ages. The disease impacts the optic nerve, the mechanism for transmitting images from the eye to the brain.

Those at higher risk for glaucoma include people of African, Asian and Hispanic descent. Other risk factors include age, family history and people who are severely nearsighted.

Currently, there is no cure for glaucoma, although it can be managed successfully through medication, laser and various surgical procedures. The appropriate treatment depends on the type of glaucoma and the patient. Regardless, early detection is imperative to identifying and then stopping the disease’s progress.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Marshall Eye Surgeons at 304-691-8800.

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Charles Francis, MD

Dr. Francis is a board-certified ophthalmologist with Marshall Eye Surgeons, a department of Marshall Health, and an assistant professor with the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.