This is a scary statistic—more than four million Americans have glaucoma, and only 50% are aware that they have this disease.
Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” because there are no symptoms, and once vision is lost to this condition, it is permanent. As much as 40% of one’s vision can be lost without even knowing it.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steals sight without warning. Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve-- a bundle of more than one million nerve fibers that carry images from the eye to the brain.
Several large studies have shown that eye pressure is a major risk factor for optic nerve damage. Another risk factor relates to blood pressure.
Although the most common forms of glaucoma primarily affect the middle-aged and elderly, glaucoma can cause vision loss among people of all ages. It is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans.
Here are some resources to help you learn more about this eye disease, how it is detected and treated, and what you can do to preserve your vision:
American Health Assistance Foundation: www.ahaf.org
Glaucoma Research Foundation: www.glaucoma.org
National Eye Institute: www.nei.nih.gov