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January is an important time to recognize National Glaucoma Awareness Month and spread the word about this sight-stealing disease. Often referred to as the “silent sight-stealing thief” since glaucoma often comes with no symptoms. According to the National Eye Institute, there are more than 2.7 million Americans over the age of 40 who suffer from this disorder, yet half don’t know they have it.

Glaucoma is not just one eye disease, but a group of eye conditions. Glaucoma is a painless disease with typically no early warning signs or symptoms that slowly damages your eyesight. The condition is caused when normal fluid inside the eyes builds up, due to the fluid not flowing in and out of the eyes like normal. This pressure damages the eye’s optic nerve which results in vision loss and ultimately blindness. Glaucoma is an incurable disease. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. This is why it is so important to have regular screening eye examinations. Early detection combined with treatment to lower eye pressure can slow or stop glaucoma progression.

Everyone is at risk for glaucoma. However, there are certain groups that are at higher risk than others for developing this disease. These groups include African Americans over age 40, all people over age 60, individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, near-sightedness, steroid users, a family history of glaucoma or those who have suffered from an eye injury.

Get a healthy start this year by joining Memorial Healthcare in raising awareness about this disease and promoting the importance of yearly vision screenings. Protecting your vision should always be a top priority and having a yearly eye exam is the best way to preserve your sight. January is a great time of year to make sure your eyes are healthy with an eye exam.

Don’t let glaucoma silently sneak up on you and steal your sight. Start your year off right. Protect your sight by making a resolution for healthy vision. Schedule an eye examination, today!