Regular eye exams are critical to prevent glaucoma

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Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, may strike without symptoms, is not preventable, but it is treatable. During National Glaucoma Awareness Month, The Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) urges regular eye exams because early detection and treatment is critical to maintain healthy vision and protect the eyes from the effects of glaucoma and other potentially blinding diseases.

“Glaucoma is often referred to as 'the sneak thief of sight' because it can strike without pain or other symptoms. Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored, so early detection and treatment are paramount.”

Studies show that over the next ten years the number of Americans diagnosed with glaucoma will increase by more than one million. Yet awareness and understanding of glaucoma is relatively low, according to data from the American Optometric Association's 2010 American Eye-Q® consumer survey. Less than a quarter (22 percent) of all Americans know that glaucoma primarily causes deterioration to peripheral vision, and 56 percent believe it is preventable.

According to Dr. Jonathan Schorn, partner with Focused Eye Care in Lakeville, MN, and Minnesota Optometric Association Board of Trustees Treasurer, "Glaucoma is often referred to as 'the sneak thief of sight' because it can strike without pain or other symptoms. Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored, so early detection and treatment are paramount."

Americans also are not aware of risk factors for glaucoma, according to the AOA survey. 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. Some studies suggest high amounts of nearsightedness, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes may also be risk factors for the development of glaucoma.

Source: The Minnesota Optometric Association

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