Glaucoma: The Leading Cause of Blindness in the U.S.

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma.

Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s permanent. As much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person noticing. 

According to glaucoma.org, over 3 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have the disease. Experts estimate that half of them don’t know they have it. Combined with our aging population, we can see an epidemic of blindness looming if we don’t raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. People are often unaware that it has no symptoms in its early stages. If detected early, before noticeable vision loss occurs, glaucoma can usually be controlled and severe vision loss can often be prevented.

Anyone can get glaucoma, but those at higher risk include:

  • African Americans over age 40
  • Everyone over age 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos
  • People with a family history of the disease

Take Action to Prevent Vision Loss

There are many steps you can take to help protect your eyes and lower your risk of vision loss from glaucoma.

  • If you are in a high-risk group, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam to catch glaucoma early and start treatment. Prescription eye drops can stop the disease from progressing. Our eye doctors will recommend how often to return for follow-up exams. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once a year for people in high-risk groups.
  • Even if you are not in a high-risk group, getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam by the age of 40 can help catch  eye diseases early.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, being physically active, and avoiding smoking will help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma. These healthy behaviors will also help prevent type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Take steps to protect your eyes and the vision health of your loved ones by learning about glaucoma and other eye diseases. Know the facts, know the risks, and take action! Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam before it is too late!