To increase awareness about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' this month has been named National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of permanent vision loss, responsible for 9%-12% of all cases of blindness in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people around the world. Because glaucoma is initially asymptomatic, research shows that nearly half of those with the disease are not aware of their condition.
Glaucoma is the name for a number of eye diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, the channel that transmits images to be processed in the brain. Although glaucoma can affect anyone, those at higher risk include African Americans above age 40, senior citizens, in particular of Mexican ancestry, and individuals with a family history of glaucoma.
Because blindness of this kind is irreversible, sight can only be preserved through early diagnosis. This is difficult however, because symptoms don’t present themselves before damage has taken place, often being noticed when peripheral (side) vision is already lost.
Treatment for glaucoma depends on the disease characteristics and the extent of the vision loss, and includes pressure-reducing eye surgery or medications, often eye drops. While experts are researching a cure, one does not currently exist and therefore proper diagnosis and treatment are essential to preserve vision. Because glaucoma is a chronic disease, it is important to find an eye care professional you trust.
The NIH's National Eye Institute recently found that while ninety percent of people had heard of glaucoma, only eight percent were aware that it has no early warning signs. Only an experienced eye doctor can detect the initial effects of glaucoma, through a comprehensive eye exam. We recommend an annual eye exam as your best defense against this often over-looked disease. Contact us to schedule your annual comprehensive eye exam today.