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Q: What is ‘the silent thief of sight?’ Am I at risk for it?

Posted January 16, 2013 in Advice Column, Grimes

A: It can come with no warning and no noticeable symptoms. It is the second most common cause of blindness in the United States. “It” is glaucoma, the silent thief of sight, according to Dr. Matthew Howie, Therapeutic Optometrist.

“January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and we encourage all people, especially those at higher risk for this disease, to familiarize themselves with the potential symptoms and need for regular eye examinations” Dr. Howie said. “A regular eye examination is especially critical since a person with early-stage glaucoma may not notice any symptoms at all.”

Dr. Howie added that while the early stage symptoms may not be noticeable, persons with more advanced glaucoma may notice blurred vision, the presence of halos around lights, loss of peripheral vision and difficulty focusing on objects.

Glaucoma affects an estimated four million Americans. Some people are more at risk than others.

Those at higher risk include:
• People older than 60
• African-Americans older than 40
• People with diabetes
• Individuals who have experienced a serious eye injury
• Anyone with a family history of glaucoma

“While there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection and treatment can slow or prevent further vision loss,” Dr. Howie said. “First and foremost in the process is a comprehensive eye health exam by your family eye doctor.”

Information provided by Dr. Matthew Howie, O.D., Total Family Eye Care, 1451 S.E. Third St., Suite 400, Grimes, 986-1234.

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