Angelique Sawyer: Early detection, treatment key to protecting vision from glaucoma | Health

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Conway Eye Care stresses the importance of yearly, comprehensive eye exams to maintain quality eye health

Glaucoma affects 2.7 million people in the United States and is the second leading cause of blindness, yet understanding and awareness of the disease is low. In fact, public health surveys show as many as 72 percent of Americans don’t know that glaucoma typically has no early warning signs or symptoms.

Often referred to as the “sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that can damage the optic nerve and impair peripheral vision. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to complete loss of sight.

While the disease does not have a cure and is not preventable, it is treatable and can be detected in a comprehensive eye exam provided by your eye doctor. It is key to identify and diagnose the disease early in order to promptly treat and slow the progression of vision loss.

Americans are also largely unaware of the factors that put them at greater risk for developing glaucoma — only 13 percent of Americans know that a person’s race increased their chances for developing the disease.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians. Additional factors that put someone at greater risk for glaucoma include diabetes, hypothyroidism, age over 60, a family history of glaucoma or history of severe eye trauma.

Treatment for glaucoma includes prescription eye drops and medication to lower pressure in the eyes. In some cases, laser treatment or surgery may be effective in reducing pressure.

In addition to yearly, comprehensive eye exams, Conway Eye Care suggests the following tips to help maintain overall eye health and clear, comfortable vision:

• Eat green, leafy vegetables and foods rich in nutrients like beta carotene, vitamin C and zinc to protect eyes from disease.

• Cut down on those bad habits such as smoking and consuming alcohol or excessive caffeine, which can all be harmful to the eyes.

• If you work in front of a computer, practice the 20/20/20 rule; every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away to help avoid digital eye strain.

• Wear sunglasses with UV-A and UV-B protection year-round.

Contact Conway Eye Care at (603) 356-3000 to make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam and to help prevent vision loss from glaucoma.

About Conway Eye Care and Coos Eye Care

Founded in 1925, Conway Eye Care in North Conway, and the sister location, Coos Eye Care in Berlin, have been providing comprehensive medical and routine eye care to northern New Hampshire for more than 90 years. Drs. Angelique Sawyer, Elizabeth Reese and Olivia Stelmach provide primary eye care and emergency services for patients of all ages at both locations. Services include diabetic eye exams, prescription glasses and contact lenses, and the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eye, and retinal disease. Under the ownership of Dr. Sawyer since 2018, its doctors provide the highest quality care, using state of the art technology for treatment and prevention of eye disease. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Conway Eye Care at (603) 356-3000 or Coos Eye Care at (603) 752-3510, or go to conwayeye.com.

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Kathy Laura

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