Glaucoma: What African Americans Need To Know

senior man seriousWhen it comes to maintaining your eye health, it’s vital to know how to protect your eyesight from the onslaught of glaucoma.  Despite the severity of this disease (if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness), it isn’t the easiest eye condition to detect.  The disease is genetic, and often symptoms are often non-existent until later in life. It’s estimated that of the four million Americans who have glaucoma, approximately two million are left undiagnosed.  Additionally, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African-Americans and the second leading cause of blindness in the world.

So what exactly is glaucoma, and what should you do if you think you have it?

Glaucoma and Its Symptoms

Glaucoma is a condition that develops when there is too much fluid pressure within the eyes.  This pressure damages the optic nerve, which is the main nerve that transmits images to our brains.  Therefore, when the damaged optic nerve is left unchecked, the continued pressure will cause blindness.  That blindness can become permanent after a few years if the glaucoma is still left untreated.

Typically, individuals over the age of 40 and who have a family history of glaucoma are most likely to suffer from it.  Glaucoma is also prevalent in African-American, Irish, Russian, and Hispanic populations.  The disease is also common in those individuals who suffer from diabetes, and who take certain steroid medicines.  It’s recommended that these individuals immediately seek an appointment with an eye doctor to check for glaucoma.

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Symptoms of glaucoma include loss of vision, seeing halos around lights, eye redness, nausea, headaches, eye pain, and tunnel vision.

normal vision

Treatments for Glaucoma

Depending on the type of disease you have, your eye specialist will use the following treatments for glaucoma:

  • Drops are usually the first line of defense against glaucoma, which must be taken one, two, even four times a day, depending on the type of glaucoma.
  • Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) may be used to treat glaucoma.  SLT is a relatively new…