According to statistics from the National Eye Institute, more than 3 million Americans currently suffer from glaucoma. By 2030, the Institute predicts that this number will grow by 58%, totaling approximately 4.2 million glaucoma patients. At present, roughly 120,000 patients in the U.S. are considered completely legally blind. As the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States, Glaucoma Awareness Month seeks to shed light on this damaging, avoidable disease.
Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged due to increased internal pressure in the eye, and can occur due to blockage of the eyes drainage canals, other eye-affecting diseases, or even trauma. Often referred to as a “sneak-thief” of sight, glaucoma generally offers no obvious warning symptoms before permanent vision loss begins to occur. Affected individuals can lose up to 40% of their vision, and once sight is lost it cannot be regained. The disease knows no boundaries of race or age, but occurs more commonly in individuals over the age of 60 (particularly Hispanics), African Americans over age 40 and individuals with a family history of glaucoma.
If you have a family history of glaucoma, January is the perfect time to learn more about your risk and make an appointment with our professional ophthalmologists at Eye Michigan to examine your eyes for signs of optic nerve damage and increased intraocular pressure. If you do show any potential for developing glaucoma, your ophthalmologist can help you determine the best course of action to reduce eye pressure and prevent your symptoms from worsening and creating vision loss.