National Glaucoma Awareness Month is dedicated to January. However, spreading the word about this vision disease can be an all-year event. More than three million Americans have glaucoma, especially people over the age of 60, according to the National Eye Institute.
In fact, a 58 percent rise in glaucoma cases is expected by 2030, affecting approximately 4.2 million people. The “sneaky thief of sight” is a dangerous disease and it strikes without warning and is permanent, making prevention and awareness of this debilitating disease is vital.
What Is Glaucoma and Are There Really Different Types?
Glaucoma is a serious eye disease that steals sight with no warning or symptoms. It is a disease most commonly found in elderly adults, however, it can strike any age group. Certain ethnicities are at higher risk as well.
The disease causes vision loss by damaging the optic nerve of your eye. It essentially destroys the ability for the nerve to send images from your eyes to your brain for processing. There is also no cure for glaucoma, making it a deadly diagnosis which affects one’s daily quality of life.
There are also two types of the disease, making it even more frightening, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The different intraocular pressure divides primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Other diseases and medical conditions can also cause glaucoma.
Who Is Most at Risk for Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the number one cause of preventable blindness in the world. Over 60 million people around the world have glaucoma, and some are more at risk than others. Most people don’t even know they have it.
Glaucoma is suggested to be hereditary, however, some ethnicities are simply more susceptible. African Americans and Latino populations are at significantly more risk.
In fact, the disease is six to eight times more likely to be diagnosed in African Americans than Caucasians. Other health factors such as hypertension or diabetes put African Americans at high risk as well, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Mexican Americans over the age of 60 are at high risk, as well as African Americans over the age of 40. Asians are also at high risk due to their genetic makeup. Getting a comprehensive eye exam could be a sight saver, and early detection is key.
Learn How to Prevent Glaucoma and Raise Awareness
Nearly 12,000 Americans are blinded by glaucoma, so prevention and awareness are absolutely invaluable. Talk with your family and friends about glaucoma and keep the discussion open in your circle.
If you, a family member, or friend is at high risk for glaucoma, understanding and talking about it is the first step. Diabetics and those with severe nearsightedness are at high risk, especially if they are over the age of 60. And if you fall into any of the above ethnicities at high risk, prevention and awareness are vital.
As the second leading cause of blindness in the world, talking with your eye doctor about glaucoma may be a fantastic first step. The absolutely best way to ensure you keep glaucoma in check is to get an eye checkup. This way your eye doctor can begin treatment immediately if diagnosed.
Take glaucoma serious and personal, because there are no symptoms. If you have a history of glaucoma in your family, talk to your eye doctor about prevention steps. You can also raise awareness by supporting glaucoma foundations and research through donations and events. Don’t become a statistic of the silent sight thief.
Written By: Tara Heath