Ten thousand baby boomers turn 65 every day, and their chances of developing eye diseases grow as they enter into retirement age. Glaucoma, in particular, is on the rise – the National Eye Institute projects cases will increase 58 percent by 2030.
With World Glaucoma Week upon us, it is the perfect time to understand more about this sight-stealing disorder and how to ensure the health of your eyes.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, according to the World Health Organization.
It is a group of eye diseases in which damage to the optic nerve leads to progressive vision loss. Although widespread, glaucoma is undiagnosed in 50 percent of the general population. There are typically no early symptoms of glaucoma, which is the main reason why the disease is so dangerous. People often do not see a doctor until they have already sustained permanent damage. By the time many patients experience vision loss, they have already damaged 50 percent of their optic nerve.
Who Is Affected?
More than 3 million Americans currently have glaucoma and cases continue to increase. Glaucoma can impact anyone, although it’s more common in certain segments of the population. High-risk individuals include people 60 and older, diabetics and those with a family history of the disease. People of African and Hispanic descent are also at a higher risk, with African-Americans six to eight times more likely to develop glaucoma.
What Can You Do?
The best way to protect your vision against this disease is to have your eye doctor do a comprehensive eye examination. During an exam, an eye doctor not only tests your vision but also uses diagnostic tools to check for glaucoma and other eye diseases. The American Optometric Association recommends a comprehensive exam for adults every two years, but yearly exams are especially important for higher-risk individuals.
Detecting glaucoma early is key to giving patients more control over the impacts of the disease.
Though there is not yet a cure for glaucoma, medicine and surgery can slow its progress and prevent loss of vision.
If you are interested in learning the status of your eyes, Florida Eye Specialists is offering free glaucoma screenings to Ponte Vedra residents from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 11, at our Ponte Vedra office, 224 Ponte Vedra Park Drive, Suite 300. We are also providing screenings at our three other Jacksonville locations in Riverside, San Marco and Southside.
Don’t let glaucoma take your sight, or the sight of your family or friends. Take this opportunity to learn about your eye health.
Dr. Rajesh Shetty is a Ponte Vedra resident and an ophthalmologist at Florida Eye Specialists. For more information on Dr. Shetty and his practice, visit FloridaEyeSpecialists.com.