Stop Glaucoma from Taking Your Sight

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthYou keep your valuables safe, but there’s one valuable you may have forgotten: Your sight. All people age 60 and older are at higher risk of developing glaucoma, especially Mexican Americans. Having diabetes or a family history of glaucoma also puts you at risk.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the optic nerve of the eye and result in vision loss and blindness. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form. In this condition, fluid builds up in the front chamber of the eye, and the optic nerve is damaged by the resulting increase in eye pressure. “Glaucoma affects more than 2 million people nationwide and is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Hispanics/Latinos. Glaucoma has no early warning signs or symptoms, and most people don’t know this,” said Dr. James Tsai, chair of the Glaucoma Subcommittee for the National Eye Institute (NEI) National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP).

As glaucoma progresses, a person may eventually notice his or her side vision decreasing. If the disease is left untreated, the field of vision narrows and vision loss may result. “Most studies show that at least half of all persons with glaucoma don’t know they have this potentially blinding disease,” said Dr. Paul Sieving, director of NEI, National Institutes of Health. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is a painless procedure. Drops are placed in your eyes to dilate, or widen, the pupils. This allows your eye care professional to see inside your eye and examine the optic nerve for signs of damage and other vision problems.

If you have Medicare, are Hispanic/Latino age 65 or older, or have diabetes, or a family history of glaucoma, you may be eligible for a low-cost, comprehensive dilated eye exam through the Medicare benefit for glaucoma. Call 1–800–MEDICARE or visit for more information. For more information about glaucoma, visit or call NEI at 301–496–5248.

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