Start off the New Year by scheduling an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam. It could save your sight.
Glaucoma, the silent thief of sight, is a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve and permanently impair your vision.
According to The Glaucoma Foundation (TGF), it is the leading cause of preventative blindness, affecting as many as 80 million people around the world. The number of glaucoma patients is estimated to increase 40% to almost 112 million by 2040.
Many people are unaware of their risk, and at least half of those with glaucoma experience no symptoms until significant damage and loss of vision has occurred. Right now, as many as 1.5 million Americans are unaware that the disease is silently damaging their optic nerves.
Glaucoma can run in families, and it disproportionately affects people of African and Latin descent. Although most patients are diagnosed after the age of 40, glaucoma can arise at birth or at any time of life.
TGF urges you to protect your vision. Make a comprehensive eye exam a part of the annual healthcare for yourself and your loved ones
High-risk factors for glaucoma include:
· People over the age of 40.
While glaucoma can develop in younger patients, it occurs more frequently as we get older.
· People who have a family history of glaucoma.
Glaucoma appears to run in families. The tendency for developing glaucoma may be inherited. However, just because someone in your family has glaucoma does not mean that you will necessarily develop the disease.
· People with abnormally high intraocular pressure (IOP).
High IOP is the most important risk factor for glaucomatous damage.
· People of African, Hispanic, Latino, and Asian descent.
People with African and Latino ancestry have a greater tendency for developing primary open-angle glaucoma than do people of other races. People of Asian descent are more prone to develop angle-closure glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma.
· People who have:
– Myopia (nearsightedness)
– Regular, long-term steroid/cortisone use
– A previous eye injury
– Extremely high or low blood pressure
– Thin central corneas
Comprehensive eye exams are recommended for:
· Everyone under 40: every three to four years.
· Individuals under 40 with one of the above risk factors: every one-and-a-half to two years.
· Everyone 40 years or older: every one-and a-half to two years.
· Everyone 40 years or older with an additional risk factor listed above: annually.
Although there is still no cure, the good news is that glaucoma can be managed if it is detected early. With early diagnosis and medical and/or surgical treatment, most people with glaucoma will not lose their sight.