January is Glaucoma Awareness month and it serves as an important reminder to learn more about this devastating disease.
Here are 10 key facts about Glaucoma:
- Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide – an estimated 3 million Americans suffer from the disease.
- Glaucoma is not a single eye disease – it is made up of several conditions which affect the optic nerve and can lead to blindness.
- There are several types of Glaucoma – the most common are open-angle and angle-closure.
- Glaucoma often goes undetected until the disease is in advanced stages – often the disease begins with no pain or symptoms. An individual may not suspect they have an issue until they suffer from vision loss.
- Family history plays a role in Glaucoma risk – having a family history of Glaucoma increases your risk of developing the disease.
- Intraocular pressure is the largest risk for Glaucoma – this occurs when the pressure within the eye increases and can only be detected as part of an annual eye exam.
- Glaucoma risk increases with age – individuals over the age of 40 are more likely to develop the disease.
- An annual comprehensive eye exam is the best way to detect Glaucoma – the disease have no early symptoms and is often called the “thief of sight”. An annual eye exam is the only way to detect the disease in its early stages.
- Everyone is at risk for Glaucoma – while Glaucoma is typically associated with older age, it can affect anyone at any age.
- There is no cure for Glaucoma – there is currently no cure for Glaucoma or way to restore vision lost to the disease. Early detection is key in the preservation of eyesight.
According to national statistics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology, approximately 20 million Americans over the age of 20 have diabetes. Almost a third of these individuals do not know that they have the disease and are at risk for vision loss.
Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye diseases that affect individuals with diabetes and includes diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and glaucoma. Early symptoms of these diseases often go unnoticed, and vision may not be affected until the diseases are in an advanced stage.
Diabetic retinopathy affects 5.3 million Americans aged 18 and older. This condition occurs when the blood vessels inside the retina become damaged from the high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes. This causes the fluids to leak into the retina and interfere with blood flow and could lead to vision loss.
While the early stages of the disease may not show, once the disease is in advanced stages, individuals may experience floaters, blurred vision, fluctuating vision, impaired color vision, dark areas in vision, and vision loss.
Individuals with diabetes may also suffer from cataracts at an earlier age and are twice as likely to develop glaucoma.
Annual comprehensive eye exams are the most effective tool for the detection and monitoring of diabetic eye disease. Individuals with diabetes or who are at risk for developing diabetes should schedule an eye exam with dilation yearly.
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