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Risk factors for glaucoma
What to do

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Getting regular, comprehensive eye examinations is the best defense against glaucoma, which can be treated successfully if diagnosed early. Three million Americans -- including 1 million African-Americans -- have glaucoma, but half don't know it because it develops without any pain. Glaucoma develops at an earlier age and can be more resistant to treatment in African-Americans than in Caucasians. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African-Americans.

The reason for the higher rate of glaucoma and subsequent blindness among African-Americans is still uncertain. It may include a greater susceptibility to optic nerve damage, a higher prevalence of elevated pressure within the eyeball at a younger age and less use of resources to detect and treat glaucoma.

Tragically, there are usually no warning signs of glaucoma. That is why glaucoma examinations are so important. Be sure to have your eyes examined in a place that does glaucoma testing. including a comprehensive dilated eye exam. The painless tests used to detect glaucoma may not be a part of many routine eye exams for new glasses. These tests may include a pressure measurement of the eye, a visual field test, which checks for loss of side vision, and a dilated examination of the optic nerve. If glaucoma is diagnosed early, it can be treated and your vision can be saved.

Glaucoma (pronounced gla-coma) damages the optic nerve at the back of the eye. It generally starts with the loss of side vision. Once side vision is gone, the disease is usually advanced and can progress to total blindness.



Being African-American;
Being related to someone with glaucoma;
Over 35 years old;
Very nearsighted;
Have had eye surgery or eye injuries;
Taking steroid medication.



The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that African-Americans ages 20-39 with no glaucoma symptoms have a comprehensive eye exam every three to five years. African-Americans over 40 should have their eyes examined through dilated pupils at least every two years. Free screenings are available for those who are uninsured or can't afford the tests.



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