January is Glaucoma Awareness Month _lowres


Glaucoma is a potentially devastating eye disease and often has no symptoms until irreversible damage and loss of vision has occurred, said optometrist Jason P. Allemond, of Williamson Allemond Regional Eye Center in Zachary.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and a result of damage to the optic nerve, which causes loss of vision.

Increased pressure inside the eye is often the culprit, but there are other factors, such as blood flow, that come into play, Allemond said.

Multiple risk factors can determine whether someone will develop glaucoma. Those risk factors include:

AGE: People above age 60 are up to six times more likely to develop glaucoma.

FAMILY HISTORY: Anyone whose close relatives have glaucoma is up to eight times more likely to develop the eye disease.

RACE: Asians or African-Americans are more likely to develop glaucoma.

CERTAIN MEDICATIONS: Those who have been on steroids for extended periods of time are at risk.

HEALTH PROBLEMS: People who have diabetes, high blood pressure and hypothyroidis or a combination of the health issues are more risk of getting glaucoma.

EYE INJURY: People who have had an injury to one or both eyes.

The only way to properly diagnose and treat glaucoma is by having a thorough eye examination performed by a board certified optometrist or ophthalmologist, Allemond said.