Glaucoma silently preys on eyesight at any age

It happens at any time, there are no symptoms and it is affecting the vision of many African-Americans everywhere.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans.

Although there is no known cure, there are steps that can be taken toward detection and treatment.

“People should get glaucoma tests regularly so they can get treated early,” said Betty Lucas, director of Eye Care America Glaucoma Project.

“Treatment can start as soon as you find out.”

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steals sight without warning and often without symptoms.

“Usually you don’t know until someone tells you,” said Dr. Richard Hamilton of Eyesite of Tallahassee.

He also pointed out that glaucoma is not an “older person’s disease.”

That is one reason why Antwanette Daniels gets her eyes examined.

“It runs in my family. My aunt has it,” said Daniels, 22, senior bio/pre-med student from Orlando.

Daniels has been tested for glaucoma with the well-known “dust-in-the-eye” procedure.

“It’s an eye test where they do a pressure test and blow a puff of air into your eye,” said Daniels.

She added that the test is painless and “it’s like when you had something in your eye when you were little and your mother blows in your eye.”

If glaucoma is detected, there are treatments that help keep the disease under control, such as eye drops or laser surgery, said Lucas.

Since glaucoma is a “silent” disease, those who don’t know they are at risk, should check for risk factors. They include: being diabetic, over the age of 45, previous eye injury and a family history of glaucoma.

“Hypertension and smoking also put you at a higher risk,” added Hamilton.

Hamilton also advised that people at risk for glaucoma should maintain proper nutrition habits.

He said that part of their lifestyle should be composed of a well-balanced diet, lots of fruits and vegetables and Vitamins B and C.

Early detection and regular eye exams are key in preventing glaucoma.

Although it is not known specifically why glaucoma affects African-Americans more than any other group, research is being done to help find the answer, said Hamilton.

Daniels also shared her advice with students who may be at risk for glaucoma, “Make sure you get your eyes examined and if there are any changes in your vision, tell your doctor.”