Many eye health organizations recognize January as Glaucoma Awareness Month. Almost all eye care professionals agree that January 2021 will look much different from other years – the COVID-19 outbreak had prevented many people from getting the glaucoma screening and eye care they need for clear vision. This could put thousands of people at risk for undetected eye disease. If you are like other Americans who put off your eye care during 2020, Glaucoma Awareness Month presents a great opportunity to get back on track and in control of your eye health.
If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Healthcare Spending Account (HSA), you probably already know that they are convenient and can save you money in taxes. You also likely know that they may expire and that you might forfeit any money you don’t use at the end of the year. So what is the best way to spend your hard-earned dollars before the end of the year? On eye care, of course!
An optometrist is an eye doctor who has earned a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree after attending college and graduating from a 4-year professional program. They perform eye tests and vision tests and detect diseases, injuries, and disorders related to the eyes. Optometrists treat eye conditions, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and prescribe eyeglasses and contacts. They may also provide low-vision aids and vision therapy.
About 1 in 28 Americans have low vision, which is a visual impairment not correctable through surgery, medications, glasses, or contact. Cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are diseases that cause low vision. While up to 80 percent of cases of low vision are preventable, many eye disorders that result in low vision cause subtle symptoms – or no symptoms at all. Furthermore, many people are unaware of low vision and its causes therefore do not undergo the routine eye exams that can detect the disorders that cause low vision.
January has been declared National Glaucoma Awareness Month by many leading eye health organizations in efforts to spread awareness of the disease by sharing knowledge regarding the risk factors, causes, symptoms, and treatment options for the disease.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness in the United States, but loss of sight from glaucoma can be prevented if treated early enough.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve – the vital link between your eye and your brain. Since glaucoma has no symptoms, it’s estimated that up to 40% of a sufferer’s vision can disappear without them noticing. The World Health Organization has estimated that nearly 4.5 million people around the world have gone blind because of glaucoma.
Glaucoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness, currently affects more than 3 million people in the United States and over 60 million people worldwide. Glaucoma is often referred to as the silent thief of sight because it has no symptoms in the early stages. Experts estimate that half of all people with glaucoma have no idea that their vision is in jeopardy. That’s why January has been designated as National Glaucoma Awareness Month.
More than 2.7 million people in the U.S. over the age of 40 have glaucoma, and many don’t even know they have it until permanent vision loss has set in. Aptly called the “silent thief of sight,” glaucoma offers no warning signs before it starts to take your vision. January is dedicated to glaucoma awareness, encouraging people to have regular eye exams to help save their vision before it is too late.
Featured this month: Dr. Evan Lagouros, Fellowship-Trained Glaucoma Specialist
"Glaucoma can be divided into open-angle and closed-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma (OAG) is caused by poor outflow of the drainage canals in your eye, resulting in increased pressure. OAG, the most common form of glaucoma, has no symptoms, develops over a number of years, and can cause gradual and permanent vision loss.
Closed-angle glaucoma (CAG), the less common form of the two in the US, is caused by a mechanical obstruction in the drainage system inside of the eye, resulting in a sudden rise in pressure. This type of glaucoma can develop very quickly and is then referred to as acute narrow angle glaucoma. With this type of glaucoma there are noticeable symptoms of acute eye pain, nausea, decreased or blurry vision, headache, and/or eye redness. It can result in rapid damage to the eye from very high eye pressure and requires emergency medical attention in order to preserve sight in the eye.
Gradual onset CAG is caused when the angle between the cornea and iris becomes too narrow or closed, allowing pressure to build high enough to cause damage to the optic nerve before fluid can escape. CAG is common in farsighted eyes because of the physical structure of the eye.
Most people who have glaucoma don’t realize that they have it early in the disease course. Increased pressure is commonly associated with glaucoma; however, you can’t feel the pressure in your eye unless there’s a sudden and dramatic increase, and eye pressure alone is not sufficient to diagnose or treat glaucoma. Routine eye exams are the key to detecting the disease early enough to treat your condition and prevent progression of disease and loss of vision.
Sight is one of the most treasured of the five senses. After all, your eyes allow you to see and experience the world. Glaucoma is a threat to your eyesight. If not detected early, it can permanently damage your eyes and in severe cases, lead to blindness.