UTICA, N.Y. – Glaucoma affects more than three million Americans, and January is the designated month to spread awareness about the eye disease.
The Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) is working to educate people on glaucoma, its risk factors and the importance of regular eye exams.
The National Eye Institute describes glaucoma as a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness by damaging a nerve in the back of the eye called the optic nerve.
Glaucoma is sometimes referred to as "the sneak thief of sight" since symptoms are not always noticeable and it causes permanent vision loss.
According to CABVI, 40% of a person’s vision can be lost before recognizing it. They also say statistics show the disease is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
Risk factors include:
- Age (more common over 60)
- A history of glaucoma in the family
- A history of high pressure in eyes
- Previously having an eye injury
- Previous long-term steroid use
- Having nearsightednes
Tara Capponi, media relations and outreach coordinator at CABVI, says the best way to protect sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye exam. That way if glaucoma is diagnosed, treatment can begin as soon as possible.
For more information about CABVI call 315-797-2233.