Early Detection of Glaucoma Key to Protecting Vision

Did you know that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the optic nerve. The most common form is primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG). An estimated 2.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with POAG and an additional 2 million have glaucoma and don’t know it.

There are often no symptoms or pain associated with the onset of glaucoma. As it progresses, a person may notice his or her side vision decreasing. As the glaucoma worsens, the field of vision narrows and blindness may result.

Glaucoma can be detected through a dilated eye exam. A dilated eye exam allows an eye care professional to see inside the eye to check for signs of glaucoma and other vision problems. Treatment options for glaucoma include medicines, laser surgery, conventional surgery or a combination of any of these.

While anyone can get glaucoma, the National Eye Institute (NEI) encourages those at higher risk to get a dilated eye exam every one to two years. Individuals at higher risk include African Americans over age 40; everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans; and people with a family history of glaucoma.

To help spread the message about glaucoma, NEI has developed a series of e-cards that people can send as reminders about the importance of dilated eye exams in reducing the risk of vision loss. For more information about glaucoma or to send an e-card to family members or friends at risk for glaucoma, visit the NEI website at www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma.

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