This month is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. January is an important time to raise awareness and spread the word about glaucoma, its symptoms and its treatment. The disease is considered the “silent thief of sight” as there are virtually no symptoms associated with it and once vision is lost, it’s gone for good. As much as 40% of vision can be lost before any sort of change is noticed. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Currently there is no cure for glaucoma, but with early detection and treatment, its effects can be slowed down and further vision loss can be prevented. Over 2.7 million Americans, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of these individuals don’t even know that they have the disease. With these numbers growing, it is very important to not only receive regular eye examinations, but to help raise awareness about the disease as well.
According to Prevent Blindness America, the founders of Cataract Awareness Month, it is estimated that over 22 million Americans age 40 and over have cataracts. Cataracts are the clouding of the natural lens of the eye which leads to decreased vision. Cataracts make vision comparable to looking through a foggy windshield and are the most common cause of blindness and are conventionally treated with surgery. Cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed procedures in the United States and a recent study found that cataract surgery patients had significantly reduced rates of hip fractures due to falls.