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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is Glaucoma Awareness MonthJanuary is Glaucoma Awareness Month January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Some may not be aware of this, but the month of January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. This disease does not receive the attention that many other popular diseases receive, so we here at feel the need to spread the word about this sight stealing disease.

Currently, 2.7 million people in the United States over age 40 have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58% increase.

Glaucoma is referred to as "the sneak thief of sight" in the ophthalmology field since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.

Many are unaware that Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. What is even more alarming, is that this disease is more prevalent among African American and Latinos. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.

Over 2.7 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of these people are unaware that they even have it. In combination with an aging population, an epidemic of blindness is looming if awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision is not promoted. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.

Help Raise Awareness About Glaucoma

In the United States, approximately 120,000 are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness. Here are three ways you can help raise awareness:

  • Talk to friends and family about glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret. Let your family members know.
  • Refer interested parties to the Glaucoma Research Foundation web site to better educate them.
  • Ask the Glaucoma Research Foundation to send you a free educational booklet to you or a friend in need.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without any type of warning. The most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, but do be aware that glaucoma can affect people of all ages and not just the middle-aged and elderly.

Vision loss in Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain.

Unfortunately there is no current cure for glaucoma as of yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss if acted upon in a timely manner. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Types of Glaucoma

Yes there is more than one type! The misconception is that there is just one version. With this being said, the two main types of glaucoma are the following: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle-closure glaucoma. These are marked by an increase of intraocular pressure (IOP), or pressure inside the eye. When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal IOP, this is called normal tension glaucoma. Secondary glaucoma refers to any case in which another disease causes or contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss.

Facts and Statistics About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision. If you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.

The best way to protect your eyes from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye exam each year. In doing so, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans and among Hispanics in older age groups. Also, siblings of persons diagnosed with glaucoma have a significantly increased risk of having glaucoma due to their genealogy.

Risk Factors About Glaucoma

Do you feel you are at risk for glaucoma? Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk for glaucoma, and may help to prevent unnecessary vision loss.

Help Find a Cure for Glaucoma

The Glaucoma Research Foundation is a national non-profit organization funding innovative research to preserve vision and find a cure for glaucoma. Gifts of every size make a difference for finding a cure for this disease that is known for being the sneak thief of sight. Donate today and help find a cure.

Now that we have made you aware that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and provided you with some juicy heath finding facts, will you take the initiative to have an eye exam and make others aware of this sight stealing disease and help promote prevention or will you do nothing about it?

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