January is recognized each year as Glaucoma Awareness Month, this age-related eye disease impacts the lives of nearly 3 million Americans over the age of 40 (and particularly over the age of 60). This month is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the risk factors and signs of glaucoma, which can ultimately cause gradual blindness.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma affects the optic nerve within your eyes, gradually damaging its ability to function correctly and impacting the way your eyes carry images to your brain. Because of this glaucoma can often start without any pain and begin to gradually cause blindness.
To learn more about glaucoma, check out the 40-page booklet you can have mailed to you or a family member for free, courtesy of glaucoma.org here.
What is the cure/treatment for Glaucoma?
Unfortunately, there is no current cure for glaucoma, but proper medical treatment can aid in seriously slowing down the spread of the disease. The effectiveness of the medication is dependent on early diagnosis and what type of glaucoma is being treated.
What’s my risk?
It is estimated that over 3 million individuals are living with glaucoma, but half of those patients are undiagnosed. As the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, increased screening and awareness are necessary to help catch glaucoma’s development as early as possible.
Patients who have a family history of glaucoma or a history of high blood pressure on their eyes are at increased risks and should encourage others in their family to attend annual eye exams as well.
Does Glaucoma only impact part of your field of vision or does it cause complete blindness?
This can vary from person to person and is dependent on the type of Glaucoma. According to Prevent Blindness: “Usually, Glaucoma affects side vision (peripheral vision) first. Late in the disease, Glaucoma may cause ‘tunnel vision.’ In this condition, the person can only see straight ahead. That’s why someone with Glaucoma can have good central vision.”
How can you get involved?
As always, donations can go a long way in supporting the Glaucoma Research Foundation as they work towards finding a cure. Above all else, it is important to encourage your family members to receive regular eye checks if they feel they have pressure on their eyes, are losing vision, or have a history of Glaucoma in your family. Early detection and proper treatment can go a long way in preserving an individual’s vision.