More than 2.2 million Americans age 40 and older suffer from glaucoma “Sneak Thief of Sight.” Nearly half do not know they have the disease—it causes no early symptoms.
January has been declared as National Glaucoma Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness and other leading eye health organizations. Prevent Blindness seeks to educate the public on the second leading cause of blindness (behind cataracts) by providing free resources via online or by mail through its “Glaucoma Learning Center.” Visit www.preventblindness.org/glaucoma-learning-center, or call (800) 331-2020, for free information on risk factors, symptoms and treatment options.
For example, glaucoma risk factors include:
• Age: Those that are 40 and older are more likely to develop glaucoma. The older you are, the greater your risk.
• Race: People of African or Afro-Caribbean heritage are more likely to get glaucoma than the rest of the population. They are also more likely to develop glaucoma at a younger age.
• Family History: If you have a parent or sibling who has glaucoma, you are more likely to develop the disease.
• Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk (40 percent) of developing glaucoma.
• Nearsightedness: People who are very nearsighted are at greater risk.
• Eye Injury or Surgery: Those who have had eye surgery or eye injuries may develop secondary glaucoma.
• Steroid Medication: Steroids may increase the risk of glaucoma when used for extended periods of time.
Prevent Blindness has recently put together free fact sheets to help answer common questions about health insurance, Medicare coverage for glaucoma, the Affordable Care Act and eye care. These may be found at www.preventblindness.org/health-insurance-and-your-eyes.
“Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, the damaging effects can be reduced if diagnosed and treated early,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “Our vision should always be a top priority, and the New Year is a great time for a resolution to make sure our eyes are healthy with a dilated eye exam!”