Many people are making New Year’s resolutions to
improve their health. However, many may not be
aware that an eye exam cannot only help to protect
vision, it can uncover evidence of other diseases
including diabetes or hypertension.
And, for eye diseases such as glaucoma, the damaging
effects may be detected through an eye exam before a
patient notices any symptoms. In fact, patients in
the early stages of glaucoma usually have no symptoms,
no noticeable vision loss and no pain, which is why it
is called the “sneak thief of sight.” By the time
symptoms start to appear, some permanent damage to the
eye has usually occurred.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the
world and the leading cause of blindness in African
American and Hispanic populations in America.
According to the study “Vision Problems in the U.S.” by
Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute
(NEI), there are nearly 2.3 million Americans ages 40
and older who have glaucoma.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by
damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. This
nerve sends information from the eyes to the brain. When
the optic nerve is damaged, peripheral vision begins to
diminish. If left untreated, over time, glaucoma
may also damage central vision. Unfortunately, once
vision is lost to glaucoma, it cannot be restored.
Vision loss can be lessened, however, if glaucoma is
detected and treated early.
Prevent Blindness America has joined other leading eye
care groups to build awareness during January’s National
Glaucoma Awareness Month to educate the public on what
they can do to help save their vision.
“Our key message is that, unfortunately, there is no
cure for glaucoma. But the good news is that if
detected and treated early, the effects of vision loss
can be diminished,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and
CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “We hope
everyone has a happy and healthy 2011 and that it
includes a visit to the eye doctor.”
There are many risk factors for glaucoma including:
Age: Those that are 40 and older are more likely to
develop glaucoma. The older you are, the greater your
Race: Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in
African American and Hispanic populations in America.
Family History: If you have a parent or sibling who has
glaucoma, you are more likely to develop the disease.
Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of
Nearsightedness: People who are very nearsighted are at
Eye Injury or Surgery: Those who have had eye surgery or
eye injuries may develop secondary glaucoma.
Steroid Medication: Steroids may increase the risk of
glaucoma when used for extended periods of time.
Prevent Blindness America offers a dedicated website for
free information on glaucoma at
information may also be obtained in English or Spanish
by calling (800) 331-2020.
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