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January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

In order to create awareness about the ''sneak thief of sight,'' this month has been declared National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is the leading source of preventable permanent vision loss, responsible for 9%-12% of all cases of blindness in the United States and effecting nearly 70 million people around the world. Due to the fact that the disease has no early symptoms, experts believe that nearly half of those with glaucoma are unaware of their illness.

Glaucoma is the name for a number of ocular diseases that damage the eye's optic nerve, the conduit that transmits images to be processed in the brain. Although glaucoma can affect anyone, those at higher risk include African Americans above age 40, senior citizens, in particular Mexican Americans, and those with a family history of glaucoma.

Since vision loss of this kind can not be restored, sight can only be preserved through early diagnosis. Symptoms of the disease, however, rarely manifest before damage has taken place, and usually begin with an irreversible loss of peripheral (side) vision.

There is no treatment for glaucoma, however current methods of treatment, including medication or surgery, can reduce the progression of the disease and reduce increased vision impairment. Treatment depends upon a number of variables, including the type of glaucoma and the extent of vision loss.

The NIH's National Eye Institute recently found that while ninety percent of people had heard of glaucoma, only eight percent knew that it presents no early warning symptoms. Only a qualified eye doctor can detect the initial effects of glaucoma, through a thorough eye exam. An annual eye exam is your best defense against this silent disease. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.