CHICAGO (Dec. 21, 2010) – As 2011 nears, many will be making New Year’s resolutions to improve their health. However, many may not be aware that an eye exam cannot only help to protect vision, it can uncover evidence of other diseases including diabetes or hypertension.
And, for eye diseases such as glaucoma, the damaging effects may be detected through an eye exam before a patient notices any symptoms. In fact, patients in the early stages of glaucoma usually have no symptoms, no noticeable vision loss and no pain, which is why it is called the “sneak thief of sight.” By the time symptoms start to appear, some permanent damage to the eye has usually occurred.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and the leading cause of blindness in African American and Hispanic populations in America. According to the study “Vision Problems in the U.S.” by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute (NEI), there are nearly 2.3 million Americans ages 40 and older who have glaucoma.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. This nerve sends information from the eyes to the brain. When the optic nerve is damaged, peripheral vision begins to diminish. If left untreated, over time, glaucoma may also damage central vision. Unfortunately, once vision is lost to glaucoma, it cannot be restored. Vision loss can be lessened, however, if glaucoma is detected and treated early.
Prevent Blindness America has joined other leading eye care groups to build awareness during January’s National Glaucoma Awareness Month to educate the public on what they can do to help save their vision.
“Our key message is that, unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. But the good news is that if detected and treated early, the effects of vision loss can be diminished,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America. “We hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2011 and that it includes a visit to the eye doctor.”
Prevent Blindness America offers a dedicated website for free information on glaucoma at preventblindness.org/glaucoma.