This Living Local segment is sponsored by Callahan Eye Hospital

In America, blindness is a top three health concern, and glaucoma is a leading cause. When describing the disease, Callahan Eye Hospital physicians compare it to a plumbing problem. 

“The eye inside has a faucet that makes fluid and a drain that drains it,” said UAB Callahan Eye Ophthalmologist Dr. Blythe Monheit. “Any reason for dysfunction of the drain is what causes glaucoma. When the drain doesn’t work well inside the eye, pressure builds up, which causes damage to the nerve in the eye. The nerve getting damaged is what causes vision trouble.” 

Physicians say there are essentially two main divisions of glaucoma, which include open angle versus closed. 

“I’m simplifying this a lot, but the angle-closure glaucoma is the more symptomatic one because the pressure changes in the eye very dramatically,” said UAB Callahan Eye Ophthalmologist Dr. Hogan Knox.

Glaucoma symptoms include achiness in the eye, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and blurry vision that can come and go. 

“If glaucoma is the diagnosis, then the treatment may be just cataract surgery, which is a procedure that just fixes the problem for the time being,” said Dr. Knox. 

Doctors add open-angle glaucomas, the most common being a primary one, are asymptomatic until severe, which is why exams are critical. 

“Unfortunately once we get into vision loss, we can’t roll the clock back,” said Dr. Monheit. “Particularly if we have a family history of glaucoma, we recommend yearly eye exams to catch anything that’s coming in.”

If diagnosed, effective treatments to avoid vision loss include eye drops or a laser. 

“The laser is kind of like having the plumber come out to snake the lines in the house,” added Dr. Monheit. “It will make the plumbing in the eye work better, so we don’t need to rely on eye drops to do that.”

If you don’t have a family history of glaucoma, doctors recommend eye exams in your 40s or 50s, and Callahan Eye Hospital has approximately 20 locations in Central Alabama. 

“You’re not going to find a location with so much knowledge and so many resources to deal with eye problems as you’ll find with the eye foundation,” said Dr. Monheit. ” There’s not anything they haven’t seen or dealt with before and there’s a real passion to provide top-quality eye care there.” 

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