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Frequently Asked Questions About Glaucoma

Q. Is there any way to prevent glaucoma?

There is nothing that will prevent glaucoma, but you can slow down its development with early treatment. Therefore, it is very important that you have regular eye exams. Your doctor will perform a series of painless tests -- eye pressure measurements, dilated eye exams, and sometimes visual field testing -- to check for any changes in your eye or in your vision. With early detection, glaucoma can often be controlled with medications, either eye drops or pills. If your glaucoma doesn't respond to medication, your doctor may also recommend surgery. Remember, about half of people with glaucoma don't know they have it, and doctors cannot reverse damage from glaucoma. Vision lost is irreversible, you can't get your vision back once it is lost. Your best protection is to get regular eye exams, every couple of years if you are over 40 or on a schedule recommended by your doctor.

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Q. If I have glaucoma, will I become blind?

The chances are good that you will not go blind if you take your medication correctly and regularly and follow up with your doctor. Treatment significantly slows the damage that occurs to the optic nerve because of the high pressure in the eye. In fact, if you take your eye drops on schedule each day, you'll probably keep your eyesight until the day you die of old age!

Q. If my parent has glaucoma, will I get it?

Not necessarily, but it does increase your risk. Other factors that may increase your risk are:

  • Being over age 50
  • Being over age 40 and African-American
  • Having a family history of glaucoma
  • Having a history of serious eye injury
  • Taking steroid medications
  • Having diabetes
  • Being nearsighted
  • Having high blood pressure

People with these risk factors should have their eyes examined on a regular basis to look for the disease.

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