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January Is National Eye Care Month-When Was The Last Time You Went To The Eye Doctor?

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.  Nearly three million people have glaucoma, but half do not realize it because there are often no warning symptoms.  What can happen as a result?  Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and the first leading cause of preventable blindness:  approximately 120,000 Americans are blind from glaucoma, accounting for 9% to 12% of all cases of blindness in the US  Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African-Americans; it is 6 to 8 times more common in African-Americans than Caucasians. The most common form, Open Angle Glaucoma, accounts for 19% of all blindness among African-Americans compared to 6% in Caucasians.

African-Americans ages 45-65 are 14 to 17 times more likely to go blind from glaucoma than Caucasians with glaucoma in the same age group.  Other high-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted.

The good news is that glaucoma is diagnosable and treatable.  But unfortunately, too many people with glaucoma don't know how or where to get evaluated, especially if they don't have access to a regular ophthalmologist.  EyeCare America, the public service foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, encourages people to take advantage of its year-round, national Glaucoma EyeCare Program.  This program offers glaucoma eye exams and care for those at increased risk of glaucoma.  To see if you, a loved one or a friend, is eligible to receive a referral for an eye exam and care, call 1-800-391-EYES (3937), 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  All eligible callers (see criteria below) receive a referral to one EyeCare America's 7,500 volunteer ophthalmologists. More information can be found at: www.eyecareamerica.org

Created: 1/26/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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