In order to spread the word about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable permanent vision loss, accounting for 9%-12% of all cases of blindness in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people around the world. Due to the fact that glaucoma has no early symptoms, experts believe that nearly half of those with glaucoma are not aware of their illness.
Glaucoma is actually a number of ocular diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, the conduit that transmits images between the eye and the brain. Although glaucoma can affect anyone, there are particular groups that are more likely to develop it such as African Americans above age 40, senior citizens, particularly Mexican Americans, and those with a family history of glaucoma.
Since vision loss of this kind is irreversible, early diagnosis of glaucoma is essential. This is difficult however, because symptoms rarely manifest before damage has occurred, and usually begin with an irreparable loss of peripheral (side) vision.
There is no treatment for glaucoma, however treatment with medication or surgery can halt the progression of the disease and prevent increased loss of vision. Treatment depends upon the variation of glaucoma and early diagnosis is imperative to its’ success.
The NIH's National Eye Institute recently found that while ninety percent of people had heard of glaucoma, a mere eight percent knew that it has no early warning signs. Only an experienced eye care professional can identify the early signs of glaucoma, through a thorough eye exam. A yearly glaucoma screening is the best way to prevent damage from this often over-looked disease. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.