Glaucoma can take your sight away. January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this prevalent, sight-stealing disease.
Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight,” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness.
Over 3 million Americans and over 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma and that the number of cases in the U.S. alone will reach 4.2 million by 2030–that’s a 58% increase.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness if left untreated. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease and often has no warning signs in its early stages.
Who is at risk?
Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.
While anyone can get glaucoma, the following people are at higher risk:
- African Americans over age 40• Everyone 60 and older, especially Hispanics/Latinos• People with a family history of glaucoma
Millions of people have glaucoma—2.7 million—and this number will likely reach 4.3 million by2030. Half of those with glaucoma don’t know they have it. The good news is that glaucoma can be detected early through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Early detection and treatment is the best way to control the disease.
Some quick facts:
- You can have glaucoma and not know it.
- Glaucoma has no warning signs, but early detection can help save your sight.
- Glaucoma runs in families. Know your family history.
- Glaucoma is more prevalent among African American and Latino populations.
- If you are at higher risk for glaucoma, get a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years.
Click here to schedule an exam at EYEcenter today. You could be saving your sight!