January has been declared National Glaucoma Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness and other leading eye health organizations, in an effort to help educate the public on the disease. Glaucoma is a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve, the bundle of nerve fibers connecting the eye to the brain, and is the leading cause of preventable blindness.
Currently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. The most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly, but glaucoma can affect people of all ages. The National Eye Institute estimates 4.2 million people will have the disease by 2030, a 58 percent increase.
Since most people notice no early symptoms or pain from glaucoma, around half the people suffering don't even know they have it. Glaucoma can be detected through a dilated eye exam from an eye care professional. Annual exams are and early diagnosis are the best chances of preserving your sight. There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but medication or surgery can slow further vision loss.
The Glaucoma Research Foundation provides a wealth of resources for learning about and dealing with glaucoma. Find out if are you at risk for glaucoma here.