Glaucoma is the number one cause of preventable blindness in the United States. Currently, 2.7 million Americans over age 40 have glaucoma, and the National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030. During January, the Glaucoma Research Foundation and other eye health groups are raising awareness of this vision loss disease through National Glaucoma Awareness Month.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes permanent vision loss and for which there are no symptoms. There is also no cure for glaucoma. However, early detection and treatment can usually stop further damage and prevent blindness.
Who is at risk?
Although the most common types of glaucoma primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, they can affect people of all ages. Moreover, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among Hispanic populations and the second-leading cause of blindness in African-Americans.
Regular eye exams are important and may help prevent unnecessary vision loss. Based on your age, your eyes should be tested:
- Before age 40, every two to four years;
- From age 40 to age 54, every one to three years;
- From age 55 to 64, every one to two years; and,
- After age 65, every six to 12 months.
Separately, anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35.
Help Raise Awareness
In the United States, approximately 120,000 are blind as a result of glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness. Talk to friends and family about glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, don’t keep it a secret, let your family members know and help spread the word this January.