Glaucoma awareness sadly lacking
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and a special emphasis is being placed on screening and treatment during January, which is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.
About 3 million people have glaucoma and only about half of those know it, according to Dr. Ann Warn.
Warn and Dr. Jean Hausheer of Dean McGee Eye Institute in the Tomlinson Medical Center recommend having your eyes checked by a professional before the damage becomes irreversible.
"We start actually in children and infants looking for it because they can have it, but it's more prevalent in adults," Hausheer said. "People that are over 50 really need to have an annual dilated exam by an ophthalmologist to look for glaucoma. You can have it and not have any idea that you have it."
Glaucoma can be hereditary. It's a spectrum of diseases that damage that nerve that is in the back part of the eye, according to Hausheer.
A thief in the night
"There's different types. Sometimes we call it "sneak thief in the night" because it doesn't have a lot of symptoms to it," Hausheer said. "I know Dr. Warn and I see it most every day here in our practice. People have no symptoms. They just think they are just coming in for a regular eye exam and have no idea that they have it."