January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. It is a condition in which elevated eye pressure may damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. There are many different types of glaucoma, but the most common type in the United States is open-angle glaucoma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50% of people with glaucoma do not know they have the disease because there are often no early symptoms.
Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people are at higher risk. You are at higher risk if you:
- Are over 60 years old, especially if you are Hispanic or Latino.
- Are African American and over 40 years old.
- Have a family history of glaucoma.
- Have diabetes.
Currently, there is no cure for glaucoma, but you can help preserve your vision health and prevent vision loss by taking the actions below:
- Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam to catch glaucoma early and start treatment. Prescription eye drops can stop glaucoma from progressing. Your eye care specialist will recommend how often to return for follow-up exams.
- Maintain a healthy weight, control your blood pressure, stay physically active, and avoid smoking. These healthy behaviors will also help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma and will help prevent other chronic conditions.
- Get immediate medical help if you have severe eye pain or a sudden loss of vision.
For more information and resources about glaucoma, visit the CDC’s Don’t Let Glaucoma Steal Your Sight webpage.