To spread the word about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' this month has been declared National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading source 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 the disease has no early symptoms, experts believe that close to 50% of patients with glaucoma are unaware of their illness.
Glaucoma is the name for a category of ocular diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, the channel that carries images to the brain. Although anyone can develop glaucoma, there are particular populations that are more likely to develop it such as African Americans over age 40, anyone over age 60, in particular of Mexican descent, and individuals with a family history of glaucoma.
Since blindness of this kind is irreversible, sight can only be preserved through early diagnosis. This is difficult however, because symptoms rarely manifest before optical nerve damage has taken place, often being noticed when peripheral (side) vision loss becomes obvious.
Treatment for glaucoma depends on the type of glaucoma and the extent of the nerve damage, and may include medication (usually prescription eye drops) or surgery. While experts are working hard to find a cure, it has not yet been found and therefore proper diagnosis and treatment are vital to preserve vision. Because glaucoma is a lifelong disease, it is preferable to find an eye doctor you trust.
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 presents no early warning symptoms. Only a qualified eye care professional can detect the early signs of glaucoma, using a comprehensive glaucoma screening. We suggest an annual eye exam as your best defense against this often over-looked disease. Schedule your annual comprehensive eye exam today.