In an effort to create awareness about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' this month has been named National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading source of preventable permanent vision loss, accounting for 9%-12% of all cases of total vision loss in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people around the world. Because glaucoma is initially asymptomatic, experts believe that close to half of those with the disease are not aware of their illness.
Glaucoma is the name for a category of eye diseases that have the common affect of causing damage to the eye's optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting images to be processed in the brain. Although glaucoma can affect people of all ages, there are particular populations that are at higher risk such as African Americans above age 40, senior citizens, in particular 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, and usually begin with an irreparable loss of peripheral (side) vision.
Treatment for glaucoma is determined based on the type of glaucoma and the extent of the vision loss, and includes pressure-reducing eye surgery or medications, often eye drops. While experts are working hard to find a cure, it has not yet been found and therefore early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent vision loss. Since glaucoma develops gradually and requires constant attention, it is important to find an eye doctor experienced in this condition.
The NIH's National Eye Institute recently found that while ninety percent of people had heard of glaucoma, a mere eight percent knew that it has no early warning signs. Only a qualified eye care professional can detect the early signs of glaucoma, through a thorough eye exam. We recommend an annual screening as the most effective way to protect your vision from this often over-looked disease. Contact us to schedule your annual glaucoma screening today.