Approximately three million Americans have been diagnosed with glaucoma and another two million do not know they have it. In Georgia, the prediction is that 62,000 persons over the age of 40 will develop glaucoma. When caught and treated early, the disease can be managed for the remainder of one's lifetime.
Because most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain, it is important to see an eye doctor regularly. Early diagnosis and intervention can prevent loss of vision. For this reason, annual eye exams are advised. For those with a family history of the disease and those who are over the age of 45, annual check-ups are even more important.
According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), a glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. The damage occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. Increased intraocular (inside the eye) pressure damages the optic nerve, which is responsible for transmitting images to the brain. If the elevated eye pressure continues, glaucoma will worsen one’s vision. Without treatment, it can cause blindness within a few years.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends eye examinations at least every one to two years for:
- African Americans and Latinos over age 40
- Anyone over age 65
- People with a family history of glaucoma
- Individuals who have experienced a serious eye injury
- People with diabetes (yearly exams are recommended)