The FINNCIAL — Glaucoma can strike without pain or other symptoms and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. According to the American Optometric Association , early detection and treatment is critical to maintain healthy vision and protect the eyes from the effects of potentially blinding diseases, such as glaucoma.
Awareness and understanding surrounding glaucoma is relatively low. According to data from the AOA's latest American Eye-Q consumer survey, less than 20 percent of all Americans know that glaucoma primarily causes deterioration to peripheral vision.
The survey also indicated 50 percent of Americans incorrectly believe glaucoma is preventable. While the disease is not preventable, it is treatable, and regular, comprehensive eye exams play a critical role in successful outcomes for patients. The AOA recommends those who suffer from glaucoma have a dilated eye examination annually. More frequent exams may be needed if you notice additional changes in your vision.
Americans also are not aware of the factors that put them most at risk for developing glaucoma. Only 16 percent of those surveyed indicated knowing that race or ethnicity may increase their risk. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, African Americans ages 45 to 65 are 14 to 17 times more likely to go blind from glaucoma than Caucasians. Other risk factors include people who have a family history of glaucoma, are over age 60, or have had severe eye trauma.