January is national glaucoma awareness month. Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight”. Glaucoma is a group of eye January is National glaucoma awareness month. Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight”. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning by damaging the optic nerve. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing.
- Most glaucoma cases occur in adults, but children may also develop this eye disease.
- More than 3 million people in the US have this disease.
- Over 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma.
- African-Americans are 6 to 8 times more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians.
- Glaucoma costs the US economy $2.86 billion every year in direct costs.
Strong risk factors for glaucoma:
- High eye pressure
- Family history
- Age 40 and over for African-Americans
- Age 60 and over for the general population
- Having a thin cornea
- Suspicious optic nerve appearance.
There are two main types of Glaucoma:
- Open-Angle Glaucoma
- The most common form
- The drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris remains open, but the trabecular meshwork (a tissue located in the anterior chamber angle of the eye) is partially blocked. This causes the pressure in the eye to increase. The pressure damages the optic nerve.
- Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- a less common form of glaucoma
- Also called acute glaucoma or narrow-angle glaucoma.
- Is caused by blocked drainage canals, resulting in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure
- Has a closed or narrow-angle between the iris and cornea
- Has symptoms and damage that are usually very noticeable
- Demands immediate medical attention.
- The only way to find out if you have glaucoma is to get a comprehensive, dilated eye exam. There is no cure for glaucoma however, medication, laser treatment, or surgery can slow the progression or prevent further loss of vision if detected early. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma a patient has.