In an effort to spread the word about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' January has been named National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the second leading source of permanent vision loss, responsible for 9%-12% of all cases of total vision loss in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people worldwide. Due to the fact that the disease is initially asymptomatic, experts believe that nearly half of those with the disease are not aware of their illness.
Glaucoma is actually a number of ocular diseases that have the common affect of causing damage to the eye's optic nerve, the pathway that transmits images to the brain. Although glaucoma can affect anyone, there are particular populations that are at higher risk such as African Americans over age 40, anyone over age 60, in particular of Mexican ancestry, and those with a family history of glaucoma.
Since blindness due to optic nerve damage can not be restored, sight can only be preserved through early diagnosis. Symptoms of the disease, however, rarely manifest before damage has occurred, and usually start with an irreversible loss of peripheral (side) vision.
While scientific efforts are underway, glaucoma has no cure, however current methods of treatment, including medication or surgery, can slow disease progression and reduce increased vision impairment. The preferred treatment is determined based on a few factors, which consider the type of damage and the extent of vision loss.
According to a recent survey of the National Eye Institute of the NIH, while glaucoma was known to ninety percent of the people they surveyed, a mere eight percent knew that it has no early warning signs. Only a qualified optometrist can detect the early signs of glaucoma, by means of a comprehensive glaucoma screening. We recommend a yearly eye exam as your best defense against this silent disease. Contact us to schedule your annual glaucoma screening today.