UTICA — The Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is hoping that the year ‘2020’ will be an encouraging reminder to put eye care on top of their priority checklist for 2020.
January is national glaucoma awareness month, and the disease impacts more than 3 million people in the United States. The CABVI warns that this number is expected to grow as this sight-stealing eye disease is projected to strike 4.2 million by 2030, a 58% increase. Some 60 million are affected worldwide.
“Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve," the National Eye Institute said. "Optic nerve damage is caused by increased pressure from fluid that builds up inside the eye. When left untreated, glaucoma can cause total vision loss. If glaucoma is detected early it can be controlled, and vision loss can be prevented. Unfortunately, vision that is already lost due to glaucoma cannot be restored, so catching it before vision loss happens is crucial.”
Glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms, and once vision is lost, it's permanent, the NEI said, adding that as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. Glaucome is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
Risk factors include:
A history of glaucoma in your family
A history of high pressure in your eyes
Previously having an eye injury
Previous long term steroid use
The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination, according to the CABVI. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.
As part of a comprehensive screening, an ophthalmologist will dilate the eyes for a full picture of inside and behind your eyes to understand your unique and particular set of eyes. Glaucoma testing is normally done as part of a full eye exam; however, if you aren’t sure that you are getting tested during your exam, simply ask, the CABVI urges.
For more information about glaucoma, there are several websites on the internet to research. The most trustworthy, up-to-date websites are www.glaucoma.org and American Optometric Association, www.aoa.org, the CABVI said.
For information about CABVI, and how the agency may be able to help, call 315-797-2233.