January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

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BETHESDA, Md.—National health and eyecare organizations are calling attention to the second leading cause of blindness in the world during National Glaucoma Awareness Month in January. The National Institutes of Health, along with the National Eye Institute (NEI), as well as Prevent Blindness America (PBA), the American Optometric Association, the Glaucoma Research Foundation and others are all encouraging people to educate themselves about this disease and get a comprehensive eye exam.

More than 2.7 million Americans aged 40 and older have open angle glaucoma, a 22 percent increase from just ten years ago, according to the 2012 Vision Problems in the U.S. report from PBA and NEI. After cataracts, it is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and the first among African-Americans. Other high risk groups include people of Asian and Hispanic descent, people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics and people who are severely nearsighted.

“Treatment during the early stages of glaucoma can control the disease and prevent future vision loss and blindness,” said Paul A. Sieving, MD, PhD, director of NEI. “This is why NEI encourages people at higher risk for glaucoma to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years.”