Annual eye exams are important for identifying eye conditions like glaucoma. The American Academy of Ophthalmology defines glaucoma as a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve. The first sign of glaucoma is usually loss of peripheral, or side, vision. Another symptom of glaucoma is halos around lights. Most people with glaucoma have no pain.
Increased eye pressure is thought to cause glaucoma. The increased pressure in your eye, called intraocular pressure, can damage your optic nerve, which sends images to your brain. If the damage worsens, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years.
Having regular eye exams can detect these vision problems early, and while there is no way to prevent glaucoma, the major damage and significant vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented.
Glaucoma.org suggests that a check for glaucoma should be done at the following ages:
- Before age 40, every two to four years
- From age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
- From age 55 to 64, every one to two years
- After age 65, every six to 12 months
The Glaucoma Research Foundation also suggests anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35. Those at higher risk include people of African descent, people with diabetes, and people with a family history of glaucoma. You are at increased risk if you have a parent or brother or sister with glaucoma.
Remember, regular comprehensive eye exams are the best form of prevention against glaucoma and other eye diseases.