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Eye and Vision Care

Glaucoma: The Sneak Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world (cataract is first) and the leading cause of blindness in African American and Hispanic populations in America. According to a study entitled Vision problems in the U.S. by Prevent Blindness America and the National Eye Institute, there are nearly 2.3 million Americans and over 93,000 Ohioans, ages 40 and older, affected by glaucoma. Half of those people may not even realize they have the disease. According to Prevent Blindness Ohio, a non-profit public health organization dedicated to preventing blindness and preserving sight, people at high risk for glaucoma include:

 

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause irreversible loss of sight by damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. This nerve sends information from the eyes to the brain. When the optic nerve is damaged, peripheral vision begins to diminish. If left untreated, over time, glaucoma may also damage central vision. Unfortunately, once vision is lost to glaucoma, it cannot be restored.


Vision loss can be lessened, however, if glaucoma is detected and treated early.

 

Attitudes about glaucoma assessed by Research to Prevent Blindness and reported on the Glaucoma Research Foundation: Facts and Stats Page reveal:

Glaucoma gives no early warning signs of potential vision loss. By the time you realize you are losing your eyesight, the vision you have already lost is gone forever. People at high risk for glaucoma need an eye exam at least every year.

 
Testing For Glaucoma

Glaucoma usually occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eye steadily increases. This can lead to optic nerve damage and reduced peripheral (side) vision. As the disease worsens, the field of vision gradually narrows, ultimately leading to blindness without treatment.

An annual comprehensive eye examination is the best way to diagnose glaucoma. This exam includes:

References:

Don't Lose Sight of Glaucoma
Glaucoma Facts and Stats
 

This article is based on information provided by Prevent Blindness Ohio and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.

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Last Reviewed: Feb 04, 2011