To increase awareness about the ''silent blinding diseases,'' January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the second leading source of permanent vision loss, accounting for 9%-12% of all cases of complete vision loss in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people around the world. Due to the fact that glaucoma has no early symptoms, research shows that close to half of those with the disease are unaware of their illness.
Glaucoma is the name for a group of ocular diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, the conduit that carries images to be processed in the brain. Although glaucoma can affect people of all ages, those at higher risk include African Americans above age 40, anyone over age 60, particularly Mexican Americans, and those with a family history of the disease.
Since vision loss due to optic nerve damage is irreversible, early diagnosis of glaucoma is essential. This is difficult however, because symptoms rarely manifest before optical nerve damage has taken place, and usually start 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 further loss of vision. Treatment is dependent upon a few variables, which include the type of damage and the advancement of the disease.
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 were aware that it has no early warning signs. Only a qualified eye doctor can detect the early effects of glaucoma, through a comprehensive eye exam. We suggest an annual eye exam as the best way to protect your vision from this silent disease. Contact us to schedule a glaucoma screening today.