2/4/2013 7:19:00 PM Glaucoma Awareness Month: Safeguard your eyes
Dr. Jason Bleazard, CBHA optometrist. Courtesy photo.
Submitted by Melanie Felice CBHA
Glaucoma affects more than 3 million Americans, according to the American Optometric Association. Prevent Blindness America estimates that more than half of these people don't even know that they have it. "Glaucoma begins by attacking peripheral vision," Dr. Jason Bleazard, Columbia Basin Health Association optometrist, said. Objects might appear slightly blurry. Patients try to compensate by squinting or turning the head to focus better. These changes may seem minor at first. "However, glaucoma can accelerate quickly, causing eyesight to rapidly and irreversibly deteriorate," Bleazard said. People often start out the year with the best of intentions. They're going to take better care of ourselves, exercise more, eat healthier and, definitely, make an effort to have regular medical, dental and vision check-ups. The truth is they often fall short of our goals and suffer as a result. Glaucoma occurs when the fluids that nourish the eye do not drain properly, resulting in a build-up of fluids, which increases pressure inside the eye. This causes damage to the optic nerve. "When patients come in for their annual vision check-up, we evaluate the health of their eyes and clarity of vision," Bleazard said. "We also can detect chronic and systemic diseases, such as glaucoma, diabetes and even hypertension (high blood pressure)." There is no cure for glaucoma, but if diagnosed and treated early, it can often be controlled. The American Optometric Association recommends you start the New Year off right by setting up an appointment with your eye doctor - and also suggests you hit the gym and maybe pick up a salad on your way home. To schedule an appointment with Bleazard or Dr. Christopher Pellejera, CBHA EyeCare director, call (509) 488- 5256.