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(Stock photo from Pixabay)

With Thanksgiving upon us, Central Susquehanna Sight Services reminds those who have it to be thankful for the gift of sight. Those who have such a gift are likely keen on keeping it, and in light of that, the group reminds people to be vigilant about having regular eye exams. Celebrate “Thanks for Sight Week” alongside your other Thanksgiving activities!

Annual eye examinations may be able to catch glaucoma early, and early detection is the only way to control the disease. Once it becomes severe, there is no known cure.

Glaucoma is the second leading causes of blindness, sometimes called the “sneak thief of sight” because there is rarely any indication that the disease is present until it is in its advanced stages. Over three million Americans have been diagnosed with glaucoma.

Glaucoma develops when there is an increase of pressure within the eye, resulting from an accumulation of the fluid that naturally circulates in the eye. It is a disease that destroys the peripheral vision and is caused by increased pressure from channels in the eye either being blocked or narrowed.

A good metaphor is a sink where the faucet is constantly running, and the drain is open all the time. When the drain either narrows or becomes clogged, it causes the fluid, called aqueous humor in the case of the eye, to back up. But, since the eye is a closed container, your ‘sink’ does not overflow; instead the backed-up fluid causes increased pressure to build up within the eye.

Symptoms, although usually rare, include:

  • Difficulty focusing upon entering a theater or any other dark room
  • Loss of side vision
  • Foggy or blurred vision
  • Halos or rainbows around lights
  • Frequent need for a change in glasses
  • Frequent headaches.

Glaucoma is hereditary and anyone with a family history of glaucoma should get regular annual eye exams. People who are at increased risk of glaucoma include those of African-American, Hispanic, Inuit, Irish, Japanese, Russian, or Scandinavian descent; are over age 40; have a family history of glaucoma; or have diabetes.

Although glaucoma is more prevalent in older adults, it can strike at any age. Childhood glaucoma is also known as congenital, pediatric, or infantile glaucoma. This is usually diagnosed within the first year of a child’s life. Symptoms may include unusually large eyes, excessive tearing, cloudy eyes, and light sensitivity. Children with glaucoma can maintain the vision that remains through medical treatments.