The month of January is a crucial time to spread awareness of the “sneak thief of sight” — Glaucoma. Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness in the US. Three million people already have Glaucoma and there are some predictions that the number will rise by 58% to over 4 million in the next 10-15 years.
While Glaucoma is not one of the diseases that can cause “the Glow,” otherwise known at Leukocoria, it definitely demonstrates the importance of regular eye exams. Parental vigilance plus regular eye exams can protect the sight of children and adults alike.
What is “Glaucoma”?
Glaucoma is actually not one but rather a group of eye diseases that cause fluid in the eyes to build up, leading to pressure that can eventually cause blindness. While treatable, it often does not cause symptoms until the damage to the eyesight is permanent. According to Glaucoma.org, as much as 40% of a person’s eyesight can be robbed by glaucoma without he or she even noticing.
Who is affected by Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. There are some populations that are particularly susceptible to the disease. African Americans are six to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with Glaucoma than Caucasians. Latinos and Asians also have higher rates of Glaucoma, as well as those with a familial history of the disease.
Anyone over the age of 60 is also more susceptible to Glaucoma.
How can you prevent Glaucoma?
As Glaucoma progresses, it first affects the peripheral vision. Therefore, it is important to immediately see a doctor should one notice any vision changes, especially on the periphery. However, because Glaucoma is predominantly asymptomatic, it is crucial for vulnerable populations to schedule regular eye exams. Glaucoma is most often discovered during a dilated-pupil exam.
Another important way to prevent this terrible disease is to raise awareness of Glaucoma and other sight-robbing eye conditions and diseases. Share this article with your friends and family, especially those who have one or more of the risk factors listed above.
Being vigilant about protecting eye health begins at birth and continues throughout your whole lifetime. Regular exams are a must, especially as one ages. Remember, while African Americans over 40 are statistically more likely to be diagnosed with Glaucoma, anyone over the age of 60 should also begin regular eye examinations. Once glaucoma has robbed sight, that vision is gone forever.