January is Glaucoma Awareness Month to bring attention to the group of eye diseases, called glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Americans today. According to the National Eye Institute, glaucoma affects over 2 million people and half of those are unaware that they have the disease! Populations most at risk for glaucoma include: African Americans over 40 years old; anyone over 65 years old; and anyone with a family member with glaucoma.
Glaucoma affects the optic nerve, located at the back of the eye where information is sent to the brain. Over time, glaucoma damages the optic nerve causing blind spots which may start in the peripheral vision where it is often unnoticed until very advanced. Glaucoma is easily detected with an eye exam that includes dilation. It is mistakenly thought that all cases of glaucoma include an elevated pressure in the eye detected by a simple pressure test only. One-third of all glaucoma cases involve no elevated ocular pressure and can only be detected with a complete dilated eye exam.
If detected early, glaucoma may be treated with drops, laser treatment or surgery to help prevent vision loss. It is recommended that anyone in the risk groups for glaucoma have a complete, dilated eye exam every 1-2 years.
Although vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible many people with vision loss benefit from professionals such as Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) and Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&Ms) who provide services to help consumers maintain employment or daily living activities with a vision loss. A VRT may work with a Low Vision Specialist, such as a doctor, a state rehabilitation service, or a local non-profit agency for the visually impaired, often at no out-of-pocket cost to the client.
Learn more about glaucoma at the National Eye Institute (www.nei.nih.gov).
Download a copy of this 300 word press release for Glaucoma Awareness Month as a large print Word document at http://www.lowvisiontech.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/glaucoma_awareness_month.doc.