Glaucoma is an eye condition in which vision is lost because of damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries information about vision from the eye to the brain. In most cases, the optic nerve is damaged when the pressure of fluid inside the front part of the eye rises. However, glaucoma-related eye damage can occur even when the fluid pressure is normal. It is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the U.S. While more than 3 million people in the US have glaucoma, it is more prevalent among African American and Latino populations. The disease most commonly affects the middle-aged and the elderly, but it can affect people of all ages. The National Eye Institute projects that the number of Americans with glaucoma will reach 4.2 million by 2030.
Glaucoma is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. Because glaucoma is a progressive disease, meaning it worsens over time, a change in the appearance of the optic nerve, a loss of nerve tissue, and a corresponding loss of vision confirms the diagnosis. Some optic nerves may resemble glaucoma, but the patients may have no other risk factors or signs of glaucoma. These patients should have routine comprehensive exams to monitor any changes.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month
Glaucoma accounts for 9% to 12% of blindness in the United States. Help raise awareness by talking to friends and family about glaucoma. Refer a friend to www.glaucoma.org and get involved in your community to help raise awareness. Spread the word on social media by using the hashtag #GlaucomaAwarenessMonth and follow @nateyeinstitute for more information. You can even have an information booklet mailed directly to you or a family member for free at www.glaucoma.org.