As the number of age-related eye disease cases is projected to grow with the aging U.S. population, January has been declared National Glaucoma Awareness Month in an effort to help educate the public on the disease, including risk factors and treatment options.
Glaucoma currently affects nearly 3 million people 40 years and older, according to the Prevent Blindness report, “Future of vision: Forecasting the prevalence and costs of vision problems.”
The number of cases is estimated to increase by nearly 50%, to 4.3 million by 2032 and by more than 90% to 5.5 million by 2050, according to a press release from Prevent Blindness.
“National Glaucoma Awareness Month is an integral part of reducing vision loss from glaucoma,” Joseph Sowka, OD, FAAO (Dipl), director of the Glaucoma Service at Nova Southeastern University, told Primary Care Optometry News. “The best way to detect glaucoma is for individuals to get comprehensive vision and ocular health evaluations from qualified practitioners who can then identify those with the disease or at risk. However, this won’t happen unless the public is well aware of glaucoma and the need to be properly examined.”
Prevent Blindness offers a dedicated web page providing patients and their care givers additional free information at www.preventblindness.org/glaucoma.
For those who have been diagnosed with glaucoma, Prevent Blindness recommends:
- Remember to take notes. Write down questions in advance to make the most of eye doctor visits.
- Patients should tell their eye doctor how the medications they are taking affect them.
- Make sure to list the eye medications and all other drugs being taken for all other physicians you see.
- Read more about glaucoma and how to live with it.
Free resources, such as the Prevent Blindness program, “Living well with low vision,” provide patients with information on how to maintain their independence and quality of life. Resources are also available to care givers.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology’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 www.aao.org/eyecareamerica.