NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. By educating people of what this disease is, how it can negatively affect your everyday way of life, and how early detection is key to slowing or even stopping the progression, we can help to reduce the number of people who will lose their vision from it.
There are over 3 million people in the United States alone who have Glaucoma with roughly 50% unaware that they have the disease. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness, without early detection any damage done is permanent, and cannot be reversed.
At this point you may be asking yourself, what does this disease do? Or what are the signs so I can help to better protect myself? Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. This nerve is like the cable that runs from your digital cable or satellite box to your TV. It takes what the eye is seeing and gives that information to the brain effectively allowing you to see.
Glaucoma is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight”. There is no pain associated with the disease. Because people are not experiencing any symptoms, the disease will slowly degrade your vision. As this happens, your vision is degraded and the optic nerve is permanently damaged. A person can often experience as much as a 40% vision loss before they even begin to notice that their vision is degrading.
Those that are highest risk for developing Glaucoma are individuals over the age of 60, people who are severely nearsighted, and those who have family members that have already been diagnosed. If you are diagnosed with Glaucoma, it is important for your family to know, as it increases their risk of developing the disease. Also, people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent are at a higher risk than those of Caucasian descent.
Early detection is essential for this disease. I’m sure that by now, you have picked up on our urges to maintain annual eye exams in our past blogs, and this disease is one of the reasons why. By detecting this disease early you can take steps can slow or even stop the progression of vision loss. Having an annual eye exam is one New Year’s Resolution you’ll want to keep.
About the author: John D. Bissell, owner of Bissell Eye Care and Tri-State Low Vision Services, offers comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family, ocular disease detection and treatment, eye glasses, sun glasses, active wear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. He has undergone specialized training for treatment of low vision by the International Academy of Low Vision Specialists utilizing customized telescopic eyeglasses, prisms and telescopic implants for patients who qualify. The practice accepts most types of vision and health insurance plans.