National Glaucoma Awareness Month Glaucoma: A Brief Overview

Glaucoma is not a single disease, but a group of diseases that gradually steal eyesight without warning and oftentimes without any prior symptoms. The loss of vision occurs due to damage to the optic nerve. There are many forms of glaucoma, however, two are most prominent. Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is the most common form of glaucoma. A slightly more rare form of glaucoma exists called Angle Closure Glaucoma, which is much more dangerous and fast-acting than POAG. Glaucoma is a chronic non-curable disease and it must be treated for life.

Number of Cases

It is estimated that at least 3 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know that they have it. Glaucoma accounts for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness in the U.S. Approximately 120,000 people are blind due to glaucoma. Roughly 2% of the population ages 40-50 have elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) which is the symptom that leads to glaucoma; the rate is even higher in individuals over the age of 70 where the percentage climbs to 8%. Estimates are in the range of 65 million suspected cases worldwide.

Treatment Options

Glaucoma may be treated two possible ways; most often with medication in the form of eye drop or surgery, and in some cases, both. The eye drops and surgeries work by reducing the amount of pressure on the eye caused by excess fluid. Glaucoma medications must be taken daily to control the pressure in the eye.

Make an appointment with your physician if you suspect you or a loved one may have glaucoma or would like more information or alternative treatments.

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