Posts tagged blindness
January is a time of new beginnings.
And it also is Glaucoma Awareness Month, a great time to do something that can help you or someone you love learn more about glaucoma, which has steadily risen among Latinos in recent years.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the optic nerve of the eye and lead to vision loss and blindness. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. In this condition, fluid builds up in the front chamber of the eye, and the optic nerve is damaged by the resulting increase in eye pressure.
In 2010, there were more than 220,000 diagnosed cases of glaucoma in Latinos.
By 2030, there will be approximately 606,000 cases among Latinos, a 170% projected increase, the highest among minority groups, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health.
“Glaucoma…is a leading cause of blindness among Hispanics/Latinos. Glaucoma often has no early warning signs, and most people don’t know this,” said Dr. James Tsai, chair of the Glaucoma Subcommittee for the NEI National Eye Health Education Program. “Often, a person will not experience any noticeable vision loss in the early stages of glaucoma. But as the disease progresses, a person may notice his or her side vision decreasing. If the disease is left untreated, the field of vision narrows and blindness may result.”
Studies show that at least half of all persons with glaucoma don’t know they have this potentially blinding eye disease.
But glaucoma can be detected early with a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
“Early detection and treatment may save your sight. While anyone can get glaucoma, NEI encourages people at higher risk, including African Americans over the age of 40; everyone over the age of 60, especially Mexican Americans; and people with a family history of the disease, to have a dilated eye exam every one to two years,” said NEI director Dr. Paul Sieving.
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils. This allows your eye care professional to see inside the eye and examine the optic nerve for signs of glaucoma and other vision problems. An eye pressure test alone is not enough to detect glaucoma.
If you have Medicare, are Hispanic/Latino age 65 or older, have diabetes, or have a family history of glaucoma, you may be eligible for a low-cost, comprehensive dilated eye exam through the glaucoma benefit. Call 1–800–MEDICARE or visit http://www.medicare.gov for more information.
To learn about other possible financial assistance for eye care, go here.
Diabetes affects nearly 26 million people in the U.S. Another 79 million people are estimated to have pre-diabetes.
Diabetics are at risk for diabetic eye disease, a leading cause of vision loss.
While all people with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease, Latinos, African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and older adults are at higher risk of losing vision or going blind from it.
“The longer a person has diabetes the greater is his or her risk of developing diabetic eye disease,” said Dr. Suber Huang, chair of the Diabetic Eye Disease Subcommittee for the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) National Eye Health Education Program. “If you have diabetes, be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Diabetic eye disease often has no early warning signs, but can be detected early and treated before noticeable vision loss occurs.”
Clinical research, supported in part by NEI, has shown that maintaining good control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can slow the development and progression of diabetic eye disease. In addition to regular dilated eye exams, people with diabetes should do the following to keep their health on TRACK:
- Take your medications.
- Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Add physical activity to your daily routine.
- Control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Kick the smoking habit.
For more information on diabetic eye disease and tips on finding an eye care professional or financial assistance for eye care, visit the NEI website in English or Spanish or call NEI at 301-496-5248.
Many common eye diseases that can lead to vision loss and blindness—diabetic eye disease, glaucoma, or age-related macular degeneration—often have no early warning signs or symptoms.
That makes it imperative to have regular eye exams to make sure the eyes are healthy and seeing their best.
However, you might be at higher risk for eye disease if you have a family history of eye disease; have diabetes; are African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, or Alaska Native; or are older than 50.
For example, diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness caused by uncontrolled diabetes, occurs more often in Latinos than in Whites. Older adults are at higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, or cataract.
“If you are at higher risk of eye disease, having a comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best thing you can do to protect your vision,” says Dr. Paul A. Sieving of the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “With early detection, treatment can slow or stop vision loss and reduce the risk of blindness.”
In addition to having regular eye exams, eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and wearing protective eyewear are just a few other things you can do to protect your sight.
For more information on eye health during May, Healthy Vision Month, go here.