It is estimated that 60 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma - 4 million living the United States alone. This January, National Glaucoma Awareness Month, Friends for Sight wants to help prevent the progression of this debilitating disease by encouraging Utah residents over the age of 30 to have their eyes checked for glaucoma.
If you are diabetic, have a family history, are of African or Mexican American origin, be sure to get tested at an early age. Regular vision check-ups are the key!
If glaucoma goes untreated, vision loss will usually occur in these three stages:
· Blind spots in your peripheral vision (hazardous for important activities such as driving)
· Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
· Total blindness (vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be restored)
According to Glaucoma.org, the economic impact of Glaucoma to the U.S. government is estimated to be over $1.5 billion annually.
Often referred to as the "sneak thief of sight", glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly half of those affected by glaucoma do not know they are afflicted. This staggering statistic is due to the fact that vision damage is so gradual you may not even notice it until it has reached an advanced stage. "Since there are often no signs or noticeable symptoms of glaucoma, we urge everyone to have regular eye exams to check for this disease," says Kate Edwards, Executive Director of Friends for Sight.
Because the risk for developing glaucoma increases with age, regular vision screenings are important. Persons with diabetes, a family history of glaucoma, nearsightedness or who are of African-American and Mexican-American origin are at an increased risk of the disease and should therefore be checked more frequently. An annual ophthalmologist eye exam is recommended.
Friends for Sight urges the public to maintain their vision health with regular exams. As a local non-profit organization, we strive to increase early detection and spread awareness of glaucoma and other vision disorders through free screenings. These screenings are performed at business and community health fairs throughout the state.
"We urge everyone to make a New Year's resolution to care for their eyes," says Edwards.