January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. It’s time to talk about eye health, especially in our community. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve. More than 520,000 African American have glaucoma, according to the National Eye Institute. If it’s been awhile since your last eye exam, here are three reasons to make an appointment:
1. African Americans are at higher risk.
The National Eye Institute encourages you to save your sight from vision loss and blindness by knowing your risk for glaucoma—and doing something about it! Glaucoma can lead to vision loss or blindness if left untreated. More than half of all people with glaucoma don’t know they have it. And, quite often, by the time people are diagnosed with glaucoma, they have already begun to notice changes in their side, or peripheral, vision.
This is especially true for African Americans—those over age 40 and those with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk for the disease. More than 520,000 African Americans have glaucoma, and this number is expected to increase by more than 300,000 over the next 15 years. The disease is a leading cause of blindness among African Americans.
2. You’ll miss life’s precious moments.
Weddings. Graduations. Grandchildren. Don’t miss out on seeing life’s precious moments. You know that every family wedding includes your Uncle Louis teaching the latest line dance. And every spring, Aunt Shirley pulls you into the kitchen to help bake a few cherry pies. Make sure you can stay in the mix by protecting your vision.
3. Glaucoma doesn’t have to be your reality.
Do something about glaucoma. Talking about it is the first step. The second step is to see your eye care professional and get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every 1 to 2 years if you are at higher risk. Don’t wait until you notice vision problems to see your eye care professional.
To learn more about how you can protect your sight, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma.