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What Do Christie Brinkley and Bono Have in Common?

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A regular eye screening saved both from significant vision loss due to glaucoma. Both supermodel Christie Brinkley and Bono, the lead singer of U2, were diagnosed with glaucoma during a routine eye exam. Both were also surprised by the diagnosis since they weren’t experiencing problems with their vision. That’s the sinister nature of glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide: People with glaucoma can lose most of their vision before they experience symptoms. Once vision is lost, it cannot be regained. That’s why Optical Illusions and the American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging people to get regular eye exams to protect their good vision this January which is Glaucoma Awareness Month.

What is Glaucoma? 

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve transmits visual information to the brain, allowing us to see. Because glaucoma often progresses slowly, affecting just peripheral or side vision, people with glaucoma can suffer significant vision loss before they notice a problem or a change in their vision. Central vision, the vision used to read, drive or watch TV, is usually unaffected until the disease is advanced.


Early Detection is Key

The experience of both celebrities also serves as a reminder that glaucoma doesn’t have to mean blindness. If caught early, glaucoma can be treated with medicated eye drops or laser treatments.

“It may seem harmless to skip a routine eye exam if you don’t notice any vision changes, but glaucoma, as well as some other eye conditions, can cause vision loss without any warning signs,” said Dianna Seldomridge, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Even though eye doctors have several effective treatment options, the best protection against vision loss from glaucoma is an early diagnosis.”

Who’s Most At-Risk for Glaucoma? 

Optical Illusions recommends all healthy adults get a comprehensive eye exam by age 40 to screen for blinding eye diseases. If eye disease runs in your family, you should see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

Here’s who’s most at risk of a glaucoma diagnosis:

  • African Americans: they are 6 to 8 times more likely to get glaucoma than white Americans. Blindness from glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than white Americans.
  • Hispanic Americans: this group faces an increased risk comparable to African Americans, and the disease may also progress faster as they age, compared with other ethnic groups.
  • Asian Americans: being of Asian descent increases the risk for the less common types of glaucoma: angle-closure glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma.
  • Anyone with a family history of glaucoma.
  • Anyone with diabetes. Glaucoma is two times more in people with diabetes than people without diabetes.
  • Anyone who is very nearsighted.
  • Anyone over age 40 has an increased risk and should be screened.

Treating Glaucoma at Optical Illusions

By understanding the risks associated with glaucoma, patients can take proactive steps to protect their eyes and prevent avoidable vision loss. Through a combination of annual eye exams, eye pressure screening, and retinal & optic nerve evaluations, patients of Optical Illusions can ensure their eyes remain healthy.

Contact our team to schedule your eye exam at one of our four conveniently located offices.

Written by Dr. Will To

Dr. William To has multiple years of healthcare experience providing design-based ocular care, with an optometric emphasis in Pediatrics, Dry Eye Therapy, and Ocular Surface Disease.

He graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor’s in Human Biology and a minor in Psychology and earned his Doctorate in Optometry from Western University of Health Sciences. Dr. Will is regularly invited to several Optometric Conferences and Colleges of Optometry each year to lecture to his colleagues and students, having given over 100 lectures and written several published editorials.

When he’s not caring for his amazing patients, Dr. Will enjoys traveling every chance he gets. As a Bay Area native, he has taken on leadership roles both in the local community and beyond, serving as the President of the Santa Clara County Optometric Society and on several California Optometric Association and American Optometric Association committees. He is actively involved with a variety of community outreach and social programs.

Dr. Will is an avid Golden State Warriors and 49ers fan.

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