January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month!
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. Why is this important? More than 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma, with more than three million in the United States, alone. Often called “the sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma often has no noticeable symptoms until the damage is advanced and, while there have been many encouraging research breakthroughs, vision that is lost to glaucoma still cannot be regained.
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve—the pathway that sends visual information to the brain for interpretation. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 4.5 million have irreversible blindness from glaucoma.
What are the risk factors for glaucoma?
- Family history, and
- Underlying medical conditions.
Black and Hispanic people are more likely to experience primary open-angle glaucoma, while Asian people, particularly those of Japanese descent, are more likely to develop angle-closure glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Early detection of the disease is critical for starting treatment before extensive damage occurs, in order to preserve sight.
How can I help raise awareness about glaucoma?
Glaucoma is nothing to be ashamed of. Here are some effective ways to help spread awareness about eye health and glaucoma:
- Speak about it in person and on social media.
- If you have glaucoma, share your personal experiences.
- Encourage friends and family to get regular eye exams.
- Model the behavior by regularly getting your eyes checked, and sharing that you did.
- Direct people to resources where they can learn more about it.
What are some resources I can use?
In addition to The Glaucoma Community, a partnership between Prevent Blindness and Responsum Health, some excellent online resources for learning about glaucoma and eye care include:
- Prevent Blindness
- The Glaucoma Research Foundation
- A free educational booklet for the newly-diagnosed (may be requested in English or Spanish)
- Glaucoma Financial Assistance Resources
- Living Well With Low Vision