Early Diagnosis and Treatment Can Lessen Effects of Glaucoma, the “Sneak Thief of Sight”
COLUMBUS – As 2011 is upon us, many individuals will make New Year’s resolutions to improve their health and Prevent Blindness Ohio urges Ohioans to add an eye exam to their list. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent permanent vision loss and lessen the effects of blinding eye diseases like glaucoma.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and the leading cause of blindness in African American and Hispanic populations in America. According to a study the “Vision Problems in the U.S. Study” by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute (NEI), there nearly 2.3 million Americans and 93,480 Ohioans, ages 40 and older, affected by glaucoma.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. This nerve sends information from the eyes to the brain. When the optic nerve is damaged, peripheral vision begins to diminish. If left untreated, over time, glaucoma may also damage central vision. Unfortunately, once vision is lost to glaucoma, it cannot be restored. Vision loss can be lessened, however, if glaucoma is detected and treated early.
Glaucoma’s damaging effects may be detected through an eye exam before a patient notices any symptoms. In fact, patients in the early stages of glaucoma usually have no symptoms, no noticeable vision loss, no pain, which is why it is called the “sneak thief of sight.” By the time symptoms start to appear, some permanent damage to the eye has usually occurred.
Prevent Blindness Ohio has joined other leading eye care groups to build awareness during January’s National Glaucoma Awareness Month to educate the public on what they can do to help save their vision.
There are many risk factors for glaucoma including:
- Age: Those that are 40 and older are more likely to develop glaucoma. The older you are, the greater your risk.
- Race: Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African American and Hispanic populations in America.
- Family History: If you have a parent or sibling who has glaucoma, you are more likely to develop the disease.
- Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
- Nearsightedness: People who are very nearsighted are at greater risk.
- Eye Injury or Surgery: Those who have had eye surgery or eye injuries may develop secondary glaucoma.
- Steroid Medication: Steroids may increase the risk of glaucoma when used for extended periods of time.
“Our key message is that unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. But the good news is that if it’s detected and treated early, the effects of vision loss can be diminished,” said Sherry Williams, President & CEO of Prevent Blindness Ohio. “We hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2011 and that it includes a visit to the eye doctor.”
Prevent Blindness Ohio offers a dedicated website for free information on glaucoma at preventblindness.org/glaucoma. Additional information may also be obtained in English or Spanish by calling 1-800-301-2020.
About Prevent Blindness Ohio
Prevent Blindness Ohio, founded in 1957, is Ohio’s leading volunteer nonprofit public health organization dedicated to prevent blindness and preserve sight. We serve all 88 Ohio counties, providing direct services to more than 800,000 Ohioans annually and educating millions of consumers about what they can do to protect and preserve their precious gift of sight. Prevent Blindness Ohio is an affiliate of Prevent Blindness America, the country’s second-oldest national voluntary health organization. For more information or to make a contribution, call 800-301-2020. Or, visit us on the web at www.pbohio.org or facebook.com/pbohio.