1/22/2020 8:00:00 AM
January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. This sight-stealing disease affects more that 3 million Americans, and the National Eye Institute is projecting a 58% increase in that number by 2030. The World Health Organization has identified glaucoma as the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
People over 60 are considered at risk. Regular eye exams are your best defense to help prevent unnecessary vision loss. If you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight" because there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. Peripheral vision, or what you can see on the side of your head while looking straight forward, is usually affected first. Central vision will eventually be affected if the disease is left untreated. Experts estimate that half of the people who have glaucoma don’t know they have it.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following steps to lower your risk of vision loss from glaucoma:
• Schedule regular comprehensive eye exams to catch glaucoma early. Your eye care specialist will recommend how often to return for follow-up exams. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once a year for people in high-risk groups.
• Certain types of glaucoma do not have symptoms and are hereditary, so talk to your family members about their vision to help protect yours and theirs.
• Healthy living including maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, staying active and avoiding smoking will help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma.
Treatments can include eye drops, oral medication and/or surgery to slow or prevent further vision loss. Early detection is the key to stopping the progression of the disease.
To learn more about glaucoma, visit www.glaucoma.org.