If hypertension (high blood pressure) is the "silent killer,"
then glaucoma is the "sneak thief of sight," a disease that
seems to strike with little or no warning. In reality, the damage occurs
over time, quietly destroying as much as 40 percent of a person's
vision before the loss becomes noticeable. "Glaucoma is the leading
cause of preventable blindness in this country," says Dr. Timothy
Quinn, ophthalmologist with St. Luke's Miller Creek Medical Clinic
and Hibbing Family Medical Clinic. "Without any obvious symptoms,
early detection is the key to preventing glaucoma-related vision loss."
Common types of glaucoma
The two main types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and
angle-closure glaucoma. Often associated with aging, POAG occurs gradually
as the eye's drainage system becomes less efficient and pressure inside
the eye slowly increases. Unlike POAG, closed-angle glaucoma usually occurs
suddenly when the iris (the colored part of the eye) blocks the drain.
Symptoms can include severe eye pain, headache, blurriness, halos around
lights, nausea and vomiting.
By the numbers
According to the
Glaucoma Research Foundation, more than four million Americans and nearly 70 million people worldwide
have glaucoma, and roughly half don't know they have it. In the United
States alone, approximately 120,000 people are blind as a result of glaucoma.
"Regular eye exams are especially important for people in high-risk
groups, including persons with diabetes, eye trauma, extreme nearsightedness,
a family history of glaucoma, smoking, African, Asian and Hispanic descent,
and aging," Dr. Quinn says.
While there is currently no cure for glaucoma, treatment with medication
or surgery can help prevent or slow vision loss. To learn more, talk with
your doctor or contact Dr. Charlie Ahrens at
Miller Creek Medical Clinic or
Hibbing Family Medical Clinic, or
Dr. John Yoon at
Mariner Medical Clinic.
Miller Creek Medical Clinic
4190 Loberg Avenue
Hermantown, MN 55811
Hibbing Family Medical Clinic
1120 East 34th Street
Hibbing, MN 55746
Mariner Medical Clinic
109 North 28th Street East
Superior, WI 54880