To spread the word about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' this month has been named National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable permanent vision loss, responsible for 9%-12% of all cases of blindness in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people worldwide. Since glaucoma is initially asymptomatic, research shows that close to 50% of patients with glaucoma are not aware of their condition.
Glaucoma is the name for a number of eye diseases that have the common affect of causing damage to the eye's optic nerve, which is responsible for carrying images to the brain. Although anyone can develop glaucoma, there are particular groups that are more likely to develop it such as African Americans above age 40, anyone over age 60, particularly Mexican Americans, and individuals with a family history of the disease.
Because blindness of this kind can not be restored, vision can only be preserved through early diagnosis. Symptoms of the disease, however, don’t present themselves before optical nerve damage has occurred, often becoming apparent when peripheral (side) vision is already gone.
Treatment for glaucoma depends on the disease characteristics and the amount of vision loss, and may include pressure-reducing eye surgery or medications, often eye drops. While experts are working hard to find a cure, one does not currently exist and therefore proper diagnosis and treatment are the only ways to prevent vision loss. Since glaucoma is a chronic disease, it is preferable to find an eye doctor 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, a mere eight percent were aware that it presents no early warning symptoms. Only a qualified eye care professional can identify the early effects of glaucoma, through a comprehensive eye exam. We suggest an annual eye exam as your best defense against this potentially devastating disease. Contact us to schedule a glaucoma screening today.