National Glaucoma Awareness Month is a good time to learn about a chronic condition that affects 60 million people worldwide and is one of the leading causes of blindness. Glaucoma is made up of a group of diseases which lead to vision loss, and there are virtually no symptoms. The loss of sight occurs gradually and 50% of people living with glaucoma don’t know they have it. 

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma can be diagnosed for many reasons, but it is usually caused when fluid cannot drain properly in the eye. This extra fluid creates pressure and damages the optic nerve. If this damage goes unchecked, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. 

Who is at risk for Glaucoma?

Although glaucoma mainly affects people over 60, it can occur at any age and there are many risk factors that put you at a higher risk. Diabetics, chronic steroid users, and extremely near-sighted people have a higher chance of developing the condition. Genetics can also play a role – if you have a parent or sibling diagnosed with glaucoma, there is a higher chance you will be diagnosed as well. It is also the leading cause of blindness among Black Americans and it is common among Hispanics older than 65.  Read more about racial disparity in healthcare

Recognizing the Signs & Symptoms of Glaucoma 

As much as 40% of vision loss can occur before a person notices it’s gone. It begins with peripheral vision loss, and you may not notice until the condition worsens. The best way to detect glaucoma is through regular eye exams to check for any vision loss. There is currently no cure, but there are medicines and surgeries that can treat the condition and stop it from progressing.

When is your next eye exam? Next time you visit your eye doctor, check out some of the content featured on our Exam Room Wallboard for National Glaucoma Awareness Month. 

what is glaucoma

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