In order to spread the word about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading source of avoidable blindness, accounting for 9%-12% of all cases of blindness in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people around the world. Because the disease is initially asymptomatic, research shows that nearly half of those with the disease are not aware of their condition.
Glaucoma is actually a category of ocular diseases that have the common affect of causing damage to the eye's optic nerve, the channel that transmits images from the eye to the brain. Although anyone can develop glaucoma, those at higher risk include African Americans over age 40, anyone over age 60, particularly Mexican Americans, and individuals with a family history of glaucoma.
Since vision loss of this kind is irreversible, vision can only be preserved through early diagnosis. This is difficult however, because symptoms are often not present before damage has taken place, and usually begin with an irreversible loss of peripheral (side) vision.
Treatment for glaucoma is determined based on the disease characteristics and the amount of nerve damage, and may include pressure-reducing eye surgery or medications, often eye drops. While scientists are working hard to find a cure, one does not currently exist and therefore early diagnosis and treatment are vital to prevent vision loss. Because glaucoma develops gradually and requires constant attention, it is important to find an eye care professional experienced in this condition.
According to a recent survey of the National Eye Institute of the NIH, while ninety percent of people had heard of glaucoma, only eight percent knew that it presents no early warning symptoms. Only a qualified eye care professional can identify the early signs of glaucoma, by means of a thorough eye exam. We recommend an annual screening as the most effective way to protect your vision from this potentially devastating disease. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.