January is national glaucoma awareness month

January 28, 2008

ATLANTA (GA) - January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month and the Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services (DAS) is helping raise awareness of the disease by urging mid-life and older Georgians to get regular eye examinations to preserve their vision.

Glaucoma is a disease that gradually takes an individual's sight without warning. Although the most common forms of the disease primarily affect middle-aged adults and the elderly, glaucoma has no age boundaries. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness and can affect people of all age groups, including infants and children. Those at high risk of getting the disease are African-Americans, individuals of Latino ancestry, persons over age 60, and immediate family members of those who have been diagnosed with glaucoma. More than 3 million Americans and about 70 million people worldwide have the disease, with most being unaware that they have it. Because peripheral or side vision loss begins first, a person may not be aware he has the disease until he has lost a large amount of his sight.

"We urge older and at-risk adults to take charge of their health by having regularly eye exams so they can maintain their sight longer," said Maria Greene, Director of DAS.

The two most common types of the disease are primary open angle glaucoma--which is hereditary, and angle closure glaucoma. If an individual has been diagnosed with glaucoma, he should let his family know that they are at an increased risk of getting the disease. To prevent glaucoma, at risk individuals and persons over age 40 should have regular eye exams that include measurement of eye pressure, and a careful evaluation of the optic nerve, which is the part of the eye that sends images of what a person sees to the brain.

For more information on glaucoma, visit online at Glaucoma Research Foundation http://www.glaucoma.org, or American Glaucoma Society http://www.glaucomaweb.org.

For information, contact:
Edna Jackson; 404.657.1386

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