Five things to know about glaucoma

National Eye Institute

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. The National Eye Health Education Program has a list of five things everyone should know about glaucoma, a disease that can cause blindness.

Every New Year, you make a list of things you will do to stay healthy so you can feel your best. But did you realize that feeling your best includes seeing your best too? Because January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, the program is spreading the word about the disease.

1. Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness, which can’t be reversed. Glaucoma causes fluid to build up in your eye, causing pressure that can damage the optic nerve, which transfers visual images to your brain. But, you can save your vision with early detection and treatment.

2. There are no early symptoms. Glaucoma often has no early warning signs. No pain. No discomfort. No blurry vision. Only advanced glaucoma will affect your vision. Don’t wait for symptoms to visit your eye doctor.

3. In the United States, half the people who have glaucoma don’t know they do. Nearly 3 million Americans have glaucoma. Half don’t know it. Lack of awareness and the absence of symptoms are preventing people from detecting the disease early. You can change that. Find out if you have glaucoma.

4. Some people are at higher risk than others. African-Americans over 40, adults over 60 — especially Hispanics/Latinos, and people with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk, making early detection especially important. Are you at higher risk? Talk to your family about glaucoma.

5. There is only one way to know if you have glaucoma. Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to find out if you have glaucoma. During the exam, an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupils and looks for signs of the disease in the optic nerve.

Visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma to learn more about glaucoma.

The National Eye Institute (NEI) leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. For more information, visit www.nei. nih.gov.

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Category: News