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Living with Glaucoma: It’s all in the Family

Glaucoma can quietly damage the eye and optic nerve even before a person notices vision problems

 

With today’s improved treatments, glaucoma patients no longer face inevitable blindness, but preserving vision depends on seeing an Eye M.D. (ophthalmologist) at the right time and carefully following a prescribed plan. Glaucoma remains a leading cause of preventable blindness because it often goes undetected---about half of the three million Americans who have the disease are unaware of it. This January during Glaucoma Awareness Month, the EyeSmart campaign of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and Eye Care America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, want to remind people that knowing your risks for glaucoma can save your sight.

Glaucoma can quietly damage the eye and optic nerve even before a person notices vision problems. Such damage cannot be reversed once it occurs. As is true for other chronic illnesses, family support from the first diagnosis onward makes a vital difference in a patient’s course of treatment, says Louis B. Cantor, MD, the Jay C. and Lucile L. Kahn Professor of Glaucoma Research and Education at Indiana University, and an Academy clinical correspondent.

“When a patient comes alone to appointments, I know from experience that he or she will probably have a harder time staying on course,” says Dr. Cantor. “If at least one family member is involved, the patient will be much less likely to forget their eye drops or have other lapses that increase the risk of blindness.”

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