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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness

Dr. Veita Bland / September 29, 2023

If you are under the age of 55, it is important to have your eyes examined every 2-4 years. Thereafter, make your eye exam visit an annual event.

Glaucoma is an eye condition that often affects people in a stealthy manner. In other words, people are often unaware that they even have the condition until irreversible damage has been done to their eyesight. This happens to millions of older adults worldwide who are finding themselves with an irreversible loss of vision.

Experts predict that this disease will surge by 200 percent. They warn that we must be ever vigilant and develop strategies to prevent and treat these patients. The tragedy is that most of this loss of vision did not have to happen.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, nearly three million people in the U.S., age 40 and older, have glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma reduces peripheral vision and may eventually cause blindness.

Glaucoma occurs when there is increased pressure within the eye that causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting information from the eye to the brain. If untreated, glaucoma can result in partial or a complete loss of vision.

People may initially feel they are just getting older and are getting clumsier as they age. They may then notice patchy black spots in their peripheral vision. This is seen mostly in people over the age of 60.

Other risk factors for developing glaucoma include having diabetes or having a family history of glaucoma. This disease is seen more in Black individuals. Blacks are six times more likely to have advanced loss of vision due to glaucoma than their Caucasian counterparts.

So, how do you prevent becoming a victim of this silent thief of sight? You must be super vigilant. If you are under the age of 55, it is important to have your eyes examined every 2-4 years. Thereafter, make your eye exam visit an annual event. I often tell my patients that by the time I can look into their eyes and see changes it is often too late.

In most cases, glaucoma is slow in its progression. Yes, we know and understand that there is a shortage of ophthalmologists and eye care professionals, but having an annual eye examination is the way to go. So, keep up with those appointments, and make your next one at the time of your present one. Now, when was your last eye exam?

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at


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