January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. We here at All About Eyes mention glaucoma frequently in our monthly blogs. In fact, we have an in-depth, two-part series on the topic. Part One details open-angle glaucoma. And Part Two covers closed-angle glaucoma.
Why so much focus on Glaucoma?
Glaucoma very slowly chips away at your side (peripheral) vision such that you adjust to it until the damage is done and your vision is permanently impacted. The Glaucoma Research Foundation calls it the “sneak thief of sight” and states that as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person even noticing! That’s nearly half of your vision gone forever. There are no early warning signs. There’s no cure, but if caught early enough with a comprehensive eye exam where your eyes are dilated, there is treatment available that can help to stop further vision loss.
Who Gets Glaucoma?
Anyone can get glaucoma, but it mainly affects middle-aged people (60+) and the elderly. People who are Black and over 40, Asian, or Hispanic are more prone to the disease as well. If you have a family history of glaucoma, that’s important information to share with your eye doctor. Diabetics are also at risk of developing glaucoma.
Over three million people have glaucoma in the United States according to the National Eye Institute, and they estimate that by 2030 — just six years from now — that number will be 4.2 million, a 58% increase due to our aging population. Of the three million, 120,000 are fully blind, accounting for 9-12% of all cases of blindness.
How Can it be Prevented?
Early detection is key. As mentioned above, knowing your risk factors, getting a comprehensive eye exam, and being screened regularly will help to preserve your vision.