01/07/2014

WVU ophthalmologist: Screening can save your vision

January is National Glaucoma Month

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – More than four million people in the United States have glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and destroy eyesight. Unfortunately, nearly half of those with glaucoma are not even aware that they have it. Ophthalmologists at the WVU Eye Institute encourage everyone to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam to see if they have glaucoma before it’s too late.

Glaucoma causes a painless, gradual loss of vision and may have no early warning signs. Anyone can develop glaucoma, but those at higher risk for developing the disease include:
  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60
  • Those with a family history of glaucoma
“Glaucoma is known as the ‘Sneak Thief of Sight’ because in almost all cases, there are no symptoms, like pain or sudden vision loss. You only recognize the loss of sight when a lot of damage has occurred,” Ronald Gross, M.D., director of the WVU Eye Institute and chair of the WVU Department of Ophthalmology, said. “If diagnosed early and treated, most vision loss can be prevented. You have to be checked with a full eye exam to be sure.”

During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care professional will look inside the eye to detect signs of glaucoma, such as subtle changes to the optic nerve, before any symptoms appear. This allows the eye care professional to determine if a patient has glaucoma or is at increased risk for it, to monitor the condition, to treat glaucoma as early as possible, and to look for other vision problems. Once symptoms appear, it may be too late to prevent vision loss and the progression to blindness.

If glaucoma is detected early, treatments such as eye drops or surgery can slow or stop vision loss. High pressure inside the eye, which may be associated with glaucoma, does not by itself mean that you have glaucoma. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam and evaluation of the optic nerve by an eye care professional can determine that.

A nationally recognized center for vision care, research, education, and outreach, the WVU Eye Institute provides the full range of eye care under one roof — from routine exams to subspecialty medical and surgical treatment and laser vision correction. Each year, more than 35,000 patients from all over West Virginia and surrounding states receive treatment at the WVU Eye Institute.

National Glaucoma Month is a national eye health observance established by the National Eye Institute (NEI). During National Glaucoma Month, the NEI is increasing awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and treatment through outreach efforts aimed at the general public.

To learn more about the WVU Eye Institute or to make an appointment, call 304-598-4820 or visit http://wvuhealthcare.com/wvuh/Hospitals-Clinics/Eye-Institute/Eye-Institute-Home.

--WVU HEALTH--


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For more information:
Angela Jones-Knopf, News Service Coordinator, 304-293-7087
knopfa@wvuhealthcare.com
st: 01-06-14

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