OCEAN COUNTY – Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health, said, “January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month and it is important to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Presently, more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma and the National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030, a 58 percent increase.”
“You could have glaucoma and not know it,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator. “Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it is permanent. As much as 40 percent of vision can be lost without someone noticing. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. It is more prevalent among African American and Latino populations. Actually, glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, added, “With our aging population, there could be an epidemic of blindness looming if awareness is not raised. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma. Although glaucoma is a group of eye diseases, the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and the elderly. Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve which carries images from the eye to the brain. There is no cure for glaucoma; however, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. Early detection is vital.”
People who are at higher risk for glaucoma are those of African, Asian or Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed with diabetes and people who are severely nearsighted.
The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. If you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.