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Glaucoma: a boulder on the side of a hill?

Imagine you and a friend on top of a steep hill.   Your friend, thinking he's pretty funny, tells you to walk a few feet down the hill and when you get there he pushes a 2 foot boulder your way.   Luckily, the boulder hasn't gathered much speed yet, so you're able to stop it or at least slow it down enough that it doesn't shatter you to bits.    But what if your friend waits till you are much further down the hill before he shoves the boulder your way?  By the time the boulder gets to you, it's gathered a lot of speed and is carrying much more momentum than it did when you were standing just a few feet from the top of the hill.   With this momentum, the boulder would be pretty hard to stop or even slow down and it would probably cause you some serious harm.

This is a great analogy for what happens with glaucoma and why annual exams are vital to preventing serious damage.   Annual eye exams allow your optometrist to detect small changes that signal early glaucoma.   When glaucoma is caught early, it's like catching that boulder only a few feet from the top of the hill.   It's momentum is much easier to slow and damage from the disease is more manageable.    But, when eyes go a few years between exams, there is a greater opportunity for glaucoma to gain enough speed that slowing down its permanent damage to the eye becomes a very daunting task.    The unfortunate reason glaucoma is the 2nd leading cause of blindness is that this whole time its gaining momentum, the person won't experience any changes in vision or any other physical symptoms.   It's only once significant damage has occurred that the permanent vision loss results.

That's why I can't stress enough the importance for annual eye exams.

Dr. Beach.

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