In order to increase awareness about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' this month is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the second leading source of 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. Since the disease has no early symptoms, research shows that nearly 50% of patients with glaucoma are not aware of their condition.
Glaucoma is the name for a number of ocular diseases that have the common affect of causing damage to the eye's optic nerve, which is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain. Although anyone can develop glaucoma, there are certain groups that are at higher risk such as African Americans over 40 years of age, senior citizens, particularly of Mexican descent, and those with a family history of glaucoma.
Since vision loss due to optic nerve damage can not be restored, vision can only be preserved through early diagnosis. Symptoms of the disease, however, are often not present before optical nerve 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 reduce the progression of the disease and prevent further vision impairment. Treatment depends upon the variation of glaucoma and early detection is essential to its’ success.
According to a recent survey of the National Eye Institute of the NIH, while ninety percent of people had heard of glaucoma, only eight percent knew that it presents no early warning symptoms. Only an experienced eye care professional can detect the initial effects of glaucoma, by means of a comprehensive glaucoma screening. We suggest a yearly eye exam as the best way to prevent damage from this silent disease. Don’t delay in getting your yearly comprehensive eye exam before it’s too late.