This week (March 12-18,2017) is World Glaucoma Week - the perfect time to spread some awareness about the disease. Here are 5 things you should know about glaucoma to ensure that you and your family can stay healthy and happy!

1. Glaucoma can cause vision loss and blindness, which can’t be reversed.

Glaucoma causes fluid to build up in your eye, causing pressure that can damage the optic nerve, which transfers visual images to your brain. But, you can save your vision with early detection and treatment.

view of times square from perspective of someone with glaucoma

A view of Times Square in New York City through the eyes of someone with glaucoma.

2. There are no early symptoms.

Glaucoma often has no early warning signs. No pain. No discomfort. No blurry vision. Only advanced glaucoma will affect your vision. Don’t wait for symptoms to visit your eye doctor!

Indian man getting eyes examined

Ophthalmic nurse in India giving an eye exam ©Lisa Demers

3. In the United States, half the people who have glaucoma don’t know they do.

Nearly 3 million Americans have glaucoma. That number is estimated to more than double by 2050. Half don’t know it. Lack of awareness and the absence of symptoms are preventing people from detecting the disease early. You can change that! Find out if you have glaucoma by going for an eye exam.

eye exam in Madagascar

An eye exam at a Seva-funded clinic in Madagascar

4. Some people are at higher risk than others.

Anyone can develop glaucoma, although it is more common in people over the age of 45. African Americans over 40, adults over 60 – especially Hispanics/Latinos, and people with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk, making early detection especially important. Are you at higher risk? Talk to your family about glaucoma.

guatemalan man getting eyes examined

Guatemalan man getting his eyes examined at a Seva funded screening ©Toms

5. There is only one way to know if you have glaucoma.

Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the only way to find out if you have glaucoma. During the exam, an eye care professional places drops in your eyes to widen the pupils and looks for signs of the disease in the optic nerve using a special magnifying lens. People at risk of glaucoma should usually be examined every 1-2 years.

cambodian woman getting eyes examined

Cambodian woman having her eyes examined at a Seva screening ©Ellen Crystal Photography

Now that you’ve got the facts about glaucoma, make a resolution for healthier vision. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam today! And encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. 

Source: National Eye Institute

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