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Posted on 03-05-2018

Written by Hollie Reina, St George News

Glaucoma is often called “the sneak thief of sight,” a sinister moniker that sounds more like a storybook villain than an eye disease. And yet, glaucoma lives up to its nickname, often developing without pain or other symptoms.

In many glaucoma cases, a person can lose up to 40 percent of their vision before even noticing, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Therefore early detection is key to managing and treating glaucoma – it affects 3 million people in the United States alone.

Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve resulting in vision loss and sometimes blindness. It is primarily caused by a build up of pressure from the fluid in the eye not draining properly and putting pressure or stress on the optic nerve.

“When we talk about vision loss from glaucoma we are usually talking about peripheral vision loss and then moving center,” SouthWest Vision optometrist Ryan Robison said. “A classic tunnel vision reference may be used to describe the effect of glaucoma.”

If left completely untreated, a person can can go completely blind from glaucoma, Robison said, although the final stage is typically tunnel vision.

Glaucoma is hereditary in large part but there are other factors besides genetics. Robison identified the following five factors for those at high or highest risk of developing glaucoma:

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