If you ever needed convincing to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams, consider these facts: According to Prevent Blindness, there are almost 3 million people age 40 years and older who have glaucoma, and this statistic is progressively growing.
Glaucoma refers to a family of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve. Increased eye pressure called intraocular pressure creates stress on the optic nerve and results in permanent vision damage. Unlike vision loss with cataracts which is reversible with surgery, glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss. Possibly the most disconcerting fact about glaucoma is that it is often painless and asymptomatic until noticeable vision loss has already occurred.
Every January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, but this doesn’t mean that we should forget about glaucoma during the other 11 months of the year! We need to brush up on our glaucoma facts on a monthly basis because numbers are steadily growing. Prevent Blindness predicts that glaucoma incidence will increase nearly 50 percent to 4.3 million by the year 2032 and by over 90 percent to 5.5 million by 2050.
Knowing your risk is one of your best defenses against glaucoma. Age, race, family history, medical history, and link to diabetes play a significant role in whether you develop this common eye disease. Race and ethnicity are a key component in glaucoma risk. Currently, over 60 percent of current glaucoma sufferers are Caucasian, but by 2050, glaucoma patients will primarily be non-white. In fact, the demographic will look quite different with blacks and Hispanics comprising 20 percent each.
Your other safeguard against glaucoma is getting regular comprehensive eye exams. An eye exam gives your ophthalmologist insight into your visual acuity, your eye health and even your overall body wellness. A comprehensive eye exam can help diagnose anything from nearsightedness to glaucoma to hypertension, so make eye exams a top priority. The best way to keep glaucoma and other diseases at bay is to schedule your next comprehensive eye exam after each appointment so you never miss a screening. If you want to learn more about glaucoma, Prevent Blindness offers free information to patients and caregivers via its online Glaucoma Learning Center (Source: Healio).