Summit Medical Group wants you to understand the risks, screening and treatment for glaucoma. Glaucoma is a degenerative disease of the eyes that causes vision loss. Because there often are no symptoms in its early stages, many people do not know they have it.

Risk

Glaucoma can affect people of all ages and races; however, certain people are at higher risk for it than others. For example, it is more common in people age 60 years or more. In addition, people of African and Hispanic descent have higher rates of glaucoma and associated blindness than those of other ethnic backgrounds. Researchers are unsure why the disease is more common in certain people, but they believe genetics has a role in who gets the disease. Level of care also is associated with its severity and how quickly it progresses.

Other risk factors for glaucoma include:

•Diabetes mellitus

•Elevated pressure in the eye(s)

•Family history

•High blood pressure

•Injury to the eye(s)

•Nearsightedness

•Low central cornea thickness (less than .5 mm)

•Obesity

•Steroid use

Screening

"Detecting glaucoma early is critical for keeping the disease from getting worse, " notes ophthalmologist Eric B. Gurwin, MD, of Summit Medical Group. "We recommend that our patients be screened every 1 to 2 years to ensure the health of their eyes. This frequency of screening is especially important for people who are at high risk for glaucoma."

If you think you are or might be at risk for glaucoma, ask your Summit Medical Group ophthalmologist about getting tested. He or she can determine a screening schedule that is right for you.

Treatment

There is no cure for glaucoma. In some patients, however, medication, laser surgery, and certain traditional surgical procedures can help prevent or slow vision loss. Your Summit Medical Group ophthalmologist will consider many factors, including the type of glaucoma you have, your medical and family history, ethnicity, and overall health, when determining a treatment plan that is best for you.

For more information or to make an appointment, please contact Summit Medical Group Ophthalmology at 908-277-8682.