January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. There are over 3 million people in the United States and over 60 million people worldwide with the disease. According to the World Health Organization, over 4 million people are blind because of Glaucoma.
African-Americans and Latinos are more vulnerable to this disease than Caucasians. After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans and people of African descent.
Glaucoma is a cluster of eye diseases that progressively causes blindness, sometimes without much notice. Glaucoma is mainly found in middle-aged people and the elderly; however, it can affect people of all ages, including very young people. There are two types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucomaandangle-closure glaucoma. Both forms cause increased pressure inside of the eyes. When the optic nerve has been damaged, despite normal eye pressure, this is known as normal tension glaucoma. When a person has other diseases that cause or contribute to increased eye pressure, this is called secondary glaucoma. Both lead to vision loss.
Getting a thorough eye examination is the best way to protect your vision. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, receiving immediate treatment will help to prolong your eye-sight as long as possible. However it is inevitable that a person will lose his/her vision. There is currently no cure for glaucoma. Research is being done daily to find a cure.
Are You at Risk?
People most at risk for glaucoma are: Africans (and people of African descent); Asians, and people of Hispanic/Latino descent. Other risk factors include: people over 60, people with family members that have glaucoma, diabetics, steroid users, people that are severely near-sighted, and people with high blood pressure.
For more information on glaucoma please visit the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) at http://www.glaucoma.org/
The GRF has a free booklet that can be shipped anywhere in the United States and Canada. There is also a downloadable copy on their website for those living outside of North America.
Remember prevention is key. Get your eyes checked.
**Also be on the lookout for the other 5 topic episodes throughout the month of January.