To spread the word about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' 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 around the world. Since the disease has no early symptoms, experts believe that nearly 50% of patients with glaucoma are unaware of their condition.
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting images to the brain. Although glaucoma can affect anyone, there are certain populations that are more likely to develop it such as African Americans over age 40, senior citizens, in particular Mexican Americans, and individuals with a family history of glaucoma.
Since vision loss due to optic nerve damage can not be restored, sight can only be preserved through early diagnosis. This is difficult however, because symptoms rarely manifest before damage has occurred, and usually begin with an irreversible loss of peripheral (side) vision.
There is no treatment for glaucoma, however treatment with medication or surgery can slow the progression of the disease and reduce increased vision loss. The preferred treatment is determined based on the type of glaucoma and early detection is critical to its’ success.
The NIH's National Eye Institute recently found that while glaucoma was known to ninety percent of the people they surveyed, only eight percent knew that it presents no early warning symptoms. Only a qualified eye doctor can identify the initial signs of glaucoma, through a thorough eye exam. A yearly glaucoma screening is your best defense against this often over-looked disease. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.