January 11, 2013

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.  Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually cause vision loss without warning.  Although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, glaucoma can affect people of all ages.  There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma.  These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye which can damage the optic nerve.  This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires and is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain. 

Photo: A scene with two children viewed with unimpaired vision

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization.  In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms.  Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost. 

Photo: A scene with two children viewed with a Glaucoma simulation

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.

The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination.  Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately. There is no cure for glaucoma—yet.  However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss.  The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. 

Over 2.7 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma.  Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it.  If you have glaucoma, or any other type of vision loss, don’t keep it a secret.  Let your family members know and help raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Glaucoma

The information above was gathered at www.glaucoma.org

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