To spread the word about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' January has been named National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, accounting for 9%-12% of all cases of total vision loss in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people around the world. Due to the fact that the disease is initially asymptomatic, experts believe that nearly 50% of patients with the disease are not aware of their condition.
Glaucoma is actually a category of eye diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, the channel that carries images to the brain. Although glaucoma can affect people of all ages, there are particular groups that are more likely to develop it such as African Americans over age 40, senior citizens, particularly of Mexican ancestry, and those with a family history of the disease.
Because blindness of this kind can not be restored, vision can only be preserved through early diagnosis. This is difficult however, because symptoms rarely manifest before the optic nerve is damaged, often being noticed when peripheral (side) vision is already lost.
While research is ongoing, there is currently no cure for glaucoma, however current methods of treatment, including medication or surgery, can slow disease progression and prevent increased vision impairment. Treatment is determined based on a number of variables, including the type of damage and the advancement of the disease.
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 a qualified eye doctor can identify the early effects of glaucoma, using a comprehensive eye exam. We suggest an annual screening as your best defense against this potentially devastating disease. Schedule your yearly glaucoma screening today.