January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to schedule an eye exam.
More than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. About half of those who have glaucoma don’t know they have the disease, which can silently steal 40 percent of a person’s vision without notice.
Several types of glaucoma exist, but generally, the disease increases pressure in the eye, damaging the optic nerve. Glaucoma has no initial symptoms and causes no pain. Without treatment, side vision is lost and the person will eventually develop tunnel vision that will increase until all vision is lost. The disease is incurable, but medication or surgery can slow or prevent vision loss. Regular eye exams every year or two can catch the disease early.
Risk factors include being African American older than 40; being older than 60, especially if Hispanic or Latino; having a family history of glaucoma; having diabetes; or being severely nearsighted.
To learn more, speak with your eye doctor. Alternatively, you can request an informational brochure from the Glaucoma Research Foundation.