Early Diagnosis and Treatment Can Lessen Effects of Glaucoma
Studies show that over the next 10 years the number of Americans diagnosed with glaucoma will increase by more than one million. The American Optometric Association (AOA) urges people of all ages to take control of their eye health through early detection to help minimize the risk of developing glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve and often results in loss of sight.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the US; however, awareness surrounding the disease is relatively low. According to data from the AOA's latest American Eye-Q consumer survey:
-90 percent of respondents think glaucoma is preventable—only 10 percent know it's not, but that it's treatable
-86 percent don't know what part of vision glaucoma affects—deterioration to peripheral vision making it hard to see
-72 percent think glaucoma has early warning signs—it does not–only an exam that dilates the eyes can show what's going on
Regular eye exams are the first line of defense for early detection of glaucoma, according to the AOA. The disease often strikes without pain or other symptoms, so it is crucial for patients to receive a dilated eye exam where their eye doctor can thoroughly examine the pressure and nerves inside the eyes for potential signs of the disease.
Americans are not aware of the factors that put them most at risk for developing glaucoma: 86 percent of American Eye-Q respondents are unaware that a person's race places them at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians. Other risk factors include those who have a family history of glaucoma, hypothyroidism, are over age 60, or individuals who have had severe eye trauma.
Treatment for glaucoma includes prescription eye drops and medicines to lower pressure in the eyes. In some cases, laser treatment or surgery may be effective in reducing pressure.
To find a doctor of optometry, or for additional information on glaucoma and other issues concerning eye health, visit aoa.org.