January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Here are some facts and information about glaucoma that can help you be more aware of the disease.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a complicated eye disease that is associated with high pressure in the eye itself. It is a progressive disease and, when left untreated, can lead to complete loss of vision or other issues with your vision.
Types of Glaucoma
The most common types of glaucoma include:
- Primary Open-Angle (the most common)
- Normal Tension
- Angle Closure
- Other Types of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is generally a slow moving disease and therefore, symptoms are commonly overlooked or ignored by those who are experiencing them. In many cases there are no symptoms of glaucoma that can alert you to the fact that you have it.
Common symptoms of glaucoma can include:
- Halos and/or rainbow colored circles around bright lights
- Sudden loss of vision
- Frequent headaches
- Eye pain (often referred to by some as ‘a headache in the eye’) or discomfort
- Hazy or clouded vision
There are risk factors that can put you in a high risk category of having glaucoma.
- Family history of glaucoma
- Race – African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos are in a high risk category
- Age – for those of the above listed races, risk increases at age 40
Everyone age 60 and over are considered at risk for glaucoma
- Left untreated, glaucoma will most likely lead to blindness – it is the 2nd leading cause of blindness
- There is no cure for glaucoma; however vision loss can be limited or even stopped when treated and monitored regularly
- Nearly 3 million people in the U.S. have glaucoma; however, it’s estimated that only half are actually aware that they have it.
- It’s estimated that as the population ages we will see over 6 million people with glaucoma by 2050
- Once vision is lost, it can not be replaced with treatments or medications – your vision loss is permanent (which is why it is so important to have regular vision check ups, even if you are not considered “at risk” or notice any symptoms)
Financial Benefits for Glaucoma
Here are a few online resources that explain not only Medicare resources and financial aid for those who may need it to ensure their eyesight for years to come (simply click on the link provided). Note that the 2nd link provided includes resources for continued prescriptions and more.
- Medicare Covers Glaucoma Eye Exams – Click Here
- Financial Aid for Eye Care (not restricted to seniors only) – Click Here
Other Glaucoma Resources:
- Understanding Glaucoma provided by the GRF
- Don’t Lose Sight of Glaucoma by NEHEP/NEI
- Helping Older Adults See for a Lifetime by the NEI
Your eyesight is precious and should never be taken for granted. Please share this information and hopefully we can ensure a lifetime of seeing the world around us by diagnosing and treating glaucoma.
Photo by Javier A Bedrina