More than 2.8 million Americans are affected by glaucoma, according to the 2014 Prevent Blindness “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems.” These numbers are expected to increase 50 percent by 2032. By 2050, it is projected that there will be 5.5 million cases of glaucoma, a 92 percent increase.
Medical treatment associated with glaucoma and the optic nerve is also expected to spike in the years to come. Currently, glaucoma is costing our country $6 billion per year. By 2032, that amount is expected to increase to $12 billion and by 2050, annual medical treatment for glaucoma may reach a staggering $17.3 billion.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve, for which there is no cure. Increased pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve and gradually diminishes the field of vision until permanent blindness occurs. Unfortunately, there is no way to regain the vision that is lost due to glaucoma so any damage to the eyes is permanent.
The only way to prevent the damage from glaucoma is to have regular comprehensive eye exams by a licensed eye care professional. A simple pressure test called tonometry is one of the easiest ways to detect an increase in eye pressure. Other tests include a field of vision test and an inspection of the optic nerve. Certain individuals are more at risk for glaucoma than others, so knowing your own risk is essential. Risk factors include age, race (African Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk), family history, diabetes, eye injury, eye tumor and corticosteroid use (Source: Health News Digest).
If it has been several years since your last comprehensive eye exam, make an appointment today. Through early detection and early intervention, we can preserve the vision of people who develop this disease. Encourage your family members to get an eye examination to preserve their vision as well. Nothing is as priceless as our independence and the ability to see the faces of the people we love.