January Is Glaucoma Awareness Month
Each January, the National Eye Institute (NEI) sponsors National Glaucoma Awareness Month.
Why is this important? More than three million people live with glaucoma in the U.S. alone, and over 60 million people are affected worldwide. Glaucoma is frequently called “the sneak thief of sight,” because it often has no noticeable symptoms until the disease is in its later stages and, despite research breakthroughs, vision lost to glaucoma is still irreversible.
Risk factors for glaucoma
Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a set of eye diseases that harm the optic nerve, the information highway between the eye and the brain. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common type of the disease in the U.S. Risk factors for POAG include:
- Older age (>60)
- Black or Hispanic race
- Family history of glaucoma
- Underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
People of Japanese descent have a higher likelihood of developing angle-closure glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Early detection of the disease is critical for starting treatment before extensive damage occurs, in order to preserve sight.
What you can do to help raise awareness about glaucoma
Some effective ways to help raise awareness about glaucoma include:
- Urging family members and friends to get their eyes checked regularly,
- Talking about glaucoma on your social media platforms, and in person,
- Sharing about your personal experience of glaucoma, if you have it,
- Directing people to reliable resources where they can learn more about glaucoma and about eye health in general.
Some useful resources
Here are just a few educational, and vetted, online resources that you can read and share, to learn more about glaucoma and proper eye care:
- A free booklet for the newly-diagnosed (available in English and Spanish)
- Financial resources for people living with glaucoma
- Living Well With Low Vision
- Prevent Blindness
- The Glaucoma Research Foundation