National Glaucoma Awareness Month: Halt the Sneak Thief of Sight with Early Detection

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January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, and AMSURG wants to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease.

Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss in the United States. More than 3 million people in the United States, and over 60 million people worldwide, have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million in the United States by 2030, a 40 percent increase.

Sometimes known as the “The Sneak Thief of Sight,” glaucoma is a blanket term for a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. Glaucoma has no cure and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Once the damage is done to the optic nerve, a large amount of vision can be permanently lost without someone noticing.

“Glaucoma is labeled a ‘sneak thief’ because it does just that – it sneaks up on you and does damage without you noticing,” Dr. Jeff Taylor, an ophthalmologist with The Eye Surgery Center of Paducah, Kentucky, said. “That loss of vision doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a gradual process that will eventually result in permanent loss of vision if it is not adequately treated, all happening without you knowing.”

What are some common risk factors for glaucoma?

  • Age 45 or older
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • History of injury to the eye
  • African American heritage
  • History of steroid use, either in the eye (drops) or systemically (orally or injected)
  • Diabetes
  • Nearsighted (myopic)
  • Farsighted (hyperopic)
  • History of elevated intraocular pressure

Early detection is critical to preventing glaucoma from damaging your vision, and the best way to protect your sight is to get a comprehensive eye examination. If glaucoma is detected in a comprehensive eye exam, your eye doctor will design a treatment plan for you. Your doctor will go over the treatment options available and make recommendations for which treatment or combinations of treatments are best for your specific condition.

“If we can document that something is changing with your optic nerve or peripheral vision early, then we can start treatment,” Dr. Taylor said. “Promising new research on glaucoma is conducted every day trying to find a cure, but until that is found, we will continue to use tools like early detection to preserve sight.”

In 2020, AMSURG centers provided thousands of glaucoma procedures. AMSURG is proud to partner with more than 60 ophthalmology and multispecialty centers, and five ophthalmology practice locations, to provide high-quality patient care and consistently work on prevention, awareness, improved treatment methods and new procedure technologies for patients with glaucoma.

Want to know if you’re at risk? Click here to take a glaucoma risk assessment and find out. Or click here to request an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam at an AMSURG Center.

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