Millions of people live with glaucoma without knowing that they have the disease. There are many types of glaucoma, with most associated with elevated eye pressure that can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. That vision loss can usually be prevented with early detection and proper treatment/management. Unfortunately, the disease can progress silently without any noticeable symptoms, and for someone who doesn’t know they have it, they may end up with vision loss before they are ever diagnosed. And once the damage is done, it’s irreversible.
So despite its treatability, glaucoma continues to be one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S. Regular eye exams can change this. The American Optometric Association recommends that healthy adults get a comprehensive eye exam every two years until the age of 60—and once a year after that. People with risk factors for glaucoma or diagnosed with the disease should go more often.
A comprehensive eye exam includes dilating the eye so that the optic nerve can be thoroughly examined. Your doctor may offer you the “puff test” to measure your eye pressure. While an important tool, remember that the “puff is not enough” and the only way to truly look for glaucoma is to examine your optic nerve.
It’s also important to understand your risks—high eye pressure, older age, family history, African and Asian background, and nearsightedness can all put you at higher risk. If have any of these risk factors, be sure to start a conversation with your ophthalmologist.
To help facilitate this important conversation, Merck & Co. has developed a checklist that identifies any symptoms or concerns you may have about your eye health. This resource was produced as a supplement to the T.A.K.E. (Take Action to Know Your Eyes) on Glaucoma campaign, in partnership with the Alliance for Aging Research and The Glaucoma Foundation, with support from Merck. The major goal of the campaign is to educate Americans about the disease and empower those diagnosed to take an active role in managing their disease. Visit the T.A.K.E. on Glaucoma website to find quizzes that test knowledge about the disease, expert videos that address many of the obstacles to optimal outcomes, basic facts and information about glaucoma, and resources for more information.