Glaucoma: The Sneaky Sight Stealer

Posted by Kia Crawford on January 22nd, 2014 in Body, Education | No Comments

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Although, many consider glaucoma an eye disease that effects seniors like those in our Dogwood Forest Communities, this theory is flawed and is not always the case especially for certain ethnic groups. With regular complete eye exams, the detection of preliminary signs can be found earlier. That’s why its important that we begin looking toward the future and getting an eye exam for glaucoma. Did you know that according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, over 2.2 million people in the United States have glaucoma, but only half of them know they have it? First, let’s understand more about glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is nicknamed “the sneak thief of sight.” Often there aren’t any symptoms of the disease, and if it’s left untreated, can cause permanent loss of vision.  According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, nearly 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. As defined by the foundation,  glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries the images we see to the brain. Unfortunately, the process of losing vision is so gradual that the disease often goes undetected. This could delay treatment; which eventually leads to blindness. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world.   

Who is at Risk? Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans and the percentage is high among older Hispanics. There has been a steady rise in glaucoma cases within the African American population with over 520,000 affected, and according to research by both the National Institute of Health and Glaucoma Research Foundation, the number is projected to rise to 820,000 by 2030. African Americans who have a family history of glaucoma or are over the age of 40, should begin learning about the disease and begin testing. With that said, glaucoma can affect all populations and should be a regular exam for everyone regardless of ethnicity by the age of 6o.

How are you tested for Glaucoma? According to the National Eye Institute, during a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care professional can see inside the eye to detect signs of symptoms that can lead to glaucoma such as a changes to the optic nerve. This symptom will appear before any other. This allows the eye care professional to determine if you have glaucoma or are at risk for it. Unfortunately, once symptoms appear, it might be too late to prevent vision loss and the progression of blindness, according to the National Eye Institute.

How is Glaucoma treated? If glaucoma is detected early, treatments such as eye drops or surgery can slow or stop vision loss.

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition and should be spotted as soon as possible in order to maintain your eye health. Get tested today.