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Glaucoma threatens millions

CHICAGO ” There are more than 65 million suspected cases of glaucoma across the globe. More than two million Americans over the age of 40, and one in 10 over the age of 80, have been diagnosed with the disease. But, many have glaucoma and do not even know it.

Glaucoma has long been termed the “sneak thief of sight” because it slowly takes away vision, often without the patient even realizing it. People with glaucoma usually notice a loss of peripheral vision first. Over time, glaucoma may also damage central vision.

Unfortunately, once symptoms are detected, the effectiveness of treatment diminishes. And, once vision is lost, it cannot be restored. To raise awareness of the disease, Prevent Blindness America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving sight, has joined other leading eye care groups in designating January as National Glaucoma Awareness Month.



“Almost everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma,” said Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of PBA. “With our increasing aging population, it is essential that we educate ourselves on the disease and do all we can to fight the effects now.”

Glaucoma can be a very confusing disease with many types, risk factors and treatment options. To help educate consumers on what they need to know about glaucoma, PBA has created an online resource, “The Glaucoma Learning Center.”



The free Web site, http://www.preventblindess.org/glaucoma, contains a variety of resources including an adult vision risk assessment, an online discussion forum where patients or their loved ones can chat with other glaucoma sufferers, and a directory of financial assistance and vision care resources. Free printed materials are also available through PBA’s toll-free number.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that everyone over the age of 60 is at risk for the disease. Besides age, race can be another important factor in developing glaucoma.

According to the National Eye Institute, glaucoma is five times more likely to occur in blacks than in whites and blacks are four times more likely to go blind from it. Hispanics are more likely to develop glaucoma after age 60 than any other group.

“We urge everyone to make regular visits to their eye care professional for complete eye examinations,” Garrett said. “Don’t put off saving your vision until tomorrow. It may be too late.”

Visit http://www.preventblindness.org/glaucoma for more information, or call (800) 331-2020 for free information about glaucoma. Printed materials are available in both English and Spanish.


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