January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and at ComForCare, we’re encouraging people to start the new year by getting a comprehensive eye exam.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the United States, affecting about 3 million people. While anyone can get it, those most at risk include African Americans over the age of 40 and anyone over 60.
Unfortunately, without a dilated eye exam, many people don’t even know they have symptoms. The disease is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight.”
With a rapidly aging population, the epidemic is only expected to grow. To help raise awareness, we’ve put together a quick guide to Glaucoma. Keep reading to learn more about the disease and what you can do to help prevent it.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affects the optic nerve within your eyes. It gradually damages the nerve’s ability to function correctly, affecting the brain processes the way images. Typically, it is entirely painless.
The disease’s progression varies from person to person, but it often affects peripheral (side) vision first and later leads to “tunnel vision.” According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, about 5% of cases result in blindness.
Types of Glaucoma
There are several types of Glaucoma, but the main two are open-angle and angle-closure. These are marked by pressure inside the eye.
- Open-angle Glaucoma is the most common form of Glaucoma, accounting for more than 90% of cases. It’s caused by the slow clogging of drainage canals in the eye, leading to increased pressure. This is a lifetime condition that develops slowly with symptoms that are not noticed.
- Angle-closure Glaucoma is also caused by the clogging of drainage canals in the eye, however, it usually develops quickly and has very noticeable symptoms. Without immediate medical attention, the damage could be severe.
Because Glaucoma can destroy vision before any symptoms are apparent, it is vital to be aware of these risk factors:
- Being of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent
- Being over 60 years old
- Having a family history of Glaucoma
- Having diabetes
- Being severely nearsighted
Regular screenings are essential to help diagnose the disease as early as possible. If Glaucoma is found, treatment can begin immediately.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Glaucoma; however, medical treatment can help slow the spread of the disease. The effectiveness of medication or surgery depends on early diagnosis and the type of Glaucoma treated.
Regular eye exams can help detect Glaucoma in the early stages before severe damage has occurred. If you or someone you know needs help getting to an eye doctor appointment or picking up medicated eye drops, ComForCare can provide a reliable, safe, and flexible transportation solution. Reach out today to schedule your transportation services.