May is Healthy Vision month, and it's time to give your peepers some TLC. When was the last time you visited your eye doctor? Whenever my appointment is looming, I dread that "puff-of-air" test, and I never knew why I had to have it done. I learned that this tests for glaucoma - intrigued, I decided to educate myself on this sneaky but serious eye disease.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness, and there are often no signs to warn you it's coming. Keep reading to learn about the different types of glaucoma, risk factors and healthy eye care practices to keep your vision crystal clear.

Types of Glaucoma

There are a few different kinds of glaucoma, but the three most common are open-angle, angle-closure, and normal-tension.

Open-Angle Glaucoma
The most common form - at least 90% of all cases - is caused by a slow clogging of the drainage canals. This leads to an increase in eye pressure. It develops slowly, and symptoms are not noticed.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma
This type of glaucoma is caused by blocked drainage canals which results in an increased pressure of the eyeball. It develops quickly and has noticeable damage and symptoms.

Normal-Tension Glaucoma
This one's a bit of a mystery - the optic nerve is damaged even though eye pressure is relatively normal. Symptoms and damage can range in severity.

Should I Be Concerned?

Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, but there are certain groups at higher risk than others. If you are at high risk, have an eye exam every one to two years.

African Americans
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness (behind cataracts). African Americans are almost 8 times more likely than Caucasians to have glaucoma.

People Over 60
Older people are 6 times more likely to have glaucoma than younger people.

Family History
The most common type of glaucoma (open-angle, remember?) is hereditary. If members of your family have glaucoma, you are at a higher risk.

Eye Injury
Getting hit in the eye may cause open-angle glaucoma. This can happen right after the injury or years down the road.

Eye Care

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to have complete eye exams regularly. Here's how exam frequency breaks down by age:

  • Before age 40: every 2-4 years
  • Age 40-54: every 1-3 years
  • Age 55-64: every 1-2 years
  • Age 65 and older: every 6-12 months
  • High risk factor: every 1-2 years after age 35

So now that you've learned all about glaucoma, you've probably realized there isn't a whole lot to know about prevention, is there? It's important to recognize if you're part of a high-risk group so that you're getting checked out as often as you should. Other than that, staying healthy and having regular eye checkups should be all you need to keep an eye on your eyes! Schedule an appointment today in honor of Healthy Vision Month.

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