COLUMBUS — January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness is seeking to educate the public on the disease, including risk factors, types of glaucoma, treatment options and more.
According to estimates from the Prevent Blindness report, “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems,” more than 3.2 million Americans and 105,899 Ohioans ages 40 and over have glaucoma in the year 2020.
The number is expected to increase as the population ages. Glaucoma, often referred to as the “The Sneak Thief of Sight,” is a leading cause of vision loss that damages the optic nerve.
Although symptoms may not be noticeable at first, glaucoma slowly diminishes peripheral vision, making activities such as driving increasingly difficult.
The organization provides information on how glaucoma affects Ohioans in each of the state’s counties at ohiovisionproblems.preventblindness.org/map/.
Prevent Blindness offers a dedicated website providing patients and their caregivers with free information at preventblindness.org/glaucoma or its online resource, Living Well with Low Vision, at lowvision.preventblindness.org.
More women than men have glaucoma. Risk factors for glaucoma also include:
• Age — The older you are, the greater you are at risk (especially those more than 60 years old).
• Race — African-Americans age 40 and over are 4-5 times more likely to have glaucoma than others. Hispanics are also at increased risk for glaucoma as they age. Those of Asian and Native American descent are at increased risk for angle closure glaucoma.
• Family history — If you have a direct relative with glaucoma, you are more likely to get glaucoma. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, strongly encourage your family members to get complete eye exams.
• Medical History — You are at higher risk if you have a history of high pressure in the eyes, previous eye injury, long-term steroid use, or are farsighted or nearsighted.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) also states that those with diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation or other health problems affecting the whole body are at increased risk of glaucoma.
“The year 2020 is an ideal reminder for all of us to make the resolution today to save our vision for tomorrow,” said Sherry Williams, president & CEO of the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness.
“By detecting vision problems and treating them early, including those from glaucoma, we can help to avoid significant vision impairment.”
The AAO’s EyeCare America program provides eye care at no out-of-pocket cost to medically underserved seniors age 65 and older, and glaucoma exams to those at increased risk. For more information, visit aao.org/eyecare-america.
For more information on glaucoma, or other financial assistance programs, including Medicare coverage, please call the Ohio Affiliate of Prevent Blindness at (800) 301-2020 or visit pbohio.org