January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Glaucoma, an eye disease, is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.
Dr. Jim Dover, OD, an optometrist at Lyster Army Health Clinic, explains the importance of vision readiness and the benefits of early eye care, "Glaucoma is the sneaky thief of sight. It happens slowly and without noticeable symptoms. If routine eye exams are not performed, it's nearly impossible to detect until it's too late."
Vision loss from glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve. Certain risk factors increase likelihood of developing glaucoma according to the American Optometric Association. Those at higher risk include people of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent. Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted.
Over three million people in the U.S. suffer from this sight-stealing disease. Because vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible, it’s important to get regular and complete eye exams. Service Members receive a vision screening as part of their annual Periodic Health Assessment in order to meet medical readiness requirements.
Maj. Sandra Banner, OD, Chief of Specialty Services at Lyster Army Health Clinic concluded, "Glaucoma is long term peripheral vision loss. Please see your eye doctor if you have any questions about glaucoma."