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January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

More than 2 million Americans age 40 and over suffer from glaucoma, but nearly half of these individuals do not know they have the disease because there are no early symptoms. Glaucoma is a serious condition affecting the optic nerve that can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated. The symptoms are controllable with many modern treatment options available, but damage that has already occurred cannot be reversed. For this reason it is extremely important to share information about risk factors and early detection and treatment.

These risk factors may increase your chance of having glaucoma:

Age - The older you are, the greater you are at risk (especially if you are over 60 years old).

Race - African Americans age 40 and over are 4 to 5 times more likely to have glaucoma than others. Hispanics are also at increased risk for glaucoma as they age. Those of Asian and Native American descent are at increased risk for angle closure glaucoma.

Family history - If you have a parent, brother or sister with glaucoma, you are more likely to get glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, inform your family members to get complete eye exams.

Medical history - You are at risk if you have a history of high pressure in your eyes, previous eye injury, long term steroid use, or nearsightedness.

There are a number of treatments available if you are diagnosed with glaucoma, varying from eye drops to surgery. The important thing to remember is that with treatment you can avoid significant vision loss, or blindness. Medicare covers glaucoma screenings and this is an area to be as proactive as possible. Stop the damage before it occurs.

Information obtained from the Prevent Blindness American resource center at www.preventblindness.org.

For more information contact your Caring Workplace Eldercare Specialist, Heather Spindler at 314-802-5106 or via email at hspindler@seniorsolutions-stl.com.