January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. According to Dr. James W. Harris of
Graystone Eye, Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world.
This common eye disease refers to a group of eye disorders that impairs
vision by damaging the optic nerve, which is the “cable” that
carries visual information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma can occasionally
cause blurred vision, colored haloes around lights and severe pain. However,
most people with glaucoma don’t have any symptoms at all.
Many cases develop without an identifiable cause, though inherited genes
may play a role in the development of the most common types. It may also
be caused by ocular trauma, shingles, diabetes, as well as other specific
“One of the challenges we face with glaucoma is that people are not
aware the disease is slowly stealing their vision,” says Dr. Harris.
“By the time they realize they are losing their sight, it is sometimes
too late to be restored.”
Dr. Harris identifies high-risk candidates as:
- those who are approaching retirement age,
- have a family history of glaucoma,
- are diabetic,
- or those who have thin corneas.
Glaucoma cannot be prevented, however, early detection and treatment can
control the disease and reduce the chances of permanent vision loss. “The
most common treatment for glaucoma is the daily use of medicated eye drops.
Laser treatment is often used because of its excellent safety profile
and effectiveness. Surgery for glaucoma may be required if medicines and
laser fail to control the disease,” says Dr. Harris.
According to the National Eye Health Education Program, more than 90% of
patients do not comply with their ocular medication dosing regimens and
nearly 50% discontinue taking their medications before six months. Glaucoma
silently steals eyesight from more than 2.7 million Americans each year.
Individuals at risk for glaucoma should have regular dilated eye examinations
to help detect this disease. To schedule an appointment at one of four
Graystone Eye offices, call 828.322.2050 or visit