To increase awareness about the ''silent blinding diseases,'' this month has been declared National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, responsible for 9%-12% of all cases of blindness in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people worldwide. Due to the fact that the disease is initially asymptomatic, research shows that nearly half of those with the disease are unaware of their condition.
Glaucoma is actually a number of eye diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, the channel that transmits images between the eye and the brain. Although anyone can develop glaucoma, those at higher risk include African Americans over 40 years of age, senior citizens, particularly of Mexican descent, and those with a family history of the disease.
Because blindness due to optic nerve damage is irreversible, sight can only be preserved through early diagnosis. Symptoms of the disease, however, are often not present before damage has taken place, and usually begin with an irreversible loss of peripheral (side) vision.
There is no treatment for glaucoma, however treatment with medication or surgery can halt disease progression and reduce increased vision impairment. Treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma and early diagnosis is critical to its’ success.
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 an experienced optometrist can identify the initial effects of glaucoma, through a thorough glaucoma screening. We recommend a yearly eye exam as the most effective way to protect your vision from this potentially devastating disease. Contact us to schedule a glaucoma screening today.