Glaucoma, The Silent Thief of Sight
Do all people need eye exams? Yes, everyone needs a yearly eye exam even if they do not need glasses. There is a common misconception that those with 20/20 vision who are young and healthy do not need regular comprehensive eye exams. While not everyone needs glasses, everyone benefits from an evaluation of their eye health.
Situations commonly arise that illustrate this point. For example, a twenty-five year old man recently scheduled an appointment to see why his eyes were always red. His last exam had been twelve years ago and did not need glasses at the time. He had no issues seeing near or far and was in good general health. He was bothered by the red appearance of his eyes and reported that using “red relief” eye drops only helped a bit. There was no significant pain or mucous discharge, only some mild irritation. His symptoms had been going on for almost ten years. He felt like he was often judged for having red eyes and was even wrongfully accused of marijuana use as a result of the redness!
Fortunately, he made an appointment when he did. During his exam, his eye pressures were 42 mmHg in each eye. As a reference, normal eye pressure ranges from 8 to 21. The danger of having eye pressures that are above average for too long is that it can cause damage to the optic nerve in the eye. The optic nerve is the cable in the back of the eye that transmits all of the images back to the brain. Damage to this nerve from high eye pressures can result in permanent vision loss over time. This condition is known as glaucoma.
The danger with glaucoma is that they are no pain receptors inside the eye. So conditions like this often go unnoticed until irreversible damage is done. For this patient, he was given several pressure-lowering eye drops in the office to return them to a safe level. He was referred to a surgeon who would see him the next day to discuss long term options. In this case, he will most likely need a combination of surgery and medication to keep his eye pressures in a safe range.
Conditions like glaucoma generally progress slowly over time but are typically diagnosed during routine eye exams. One of the most gratifying aspects of being an optometrist in Longmont is being able to help people in our community avoid serious health and eye problems through early detection. Annual eye exams are the best way to ensure your health as well as coming in at the earliest sign of any issues that might arise in between visits.
I wish you health and happiness in 2021.
Dr Erica Whitmire OD
The Optical Centre
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At Optical Centre, Inc you will receive only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctor in the Longmont, CO and surrounding areas. Call us at 303-772-6650 or schedule an appointment online with our highly trained optometrist in Longmont. The next time you need an eye exam be sure to visit the Optical Centre, Inc where we always put the care of you and your family first.
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