American Health Assistance Foundation Recognizes January as Glaucoma Awareness Month

  • Press Release
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Glaucoma Lecture and Discussion Program Scheduled

CLARKSBURG, MD.-The American Health Assistance Foundation (AHAF), in recognition of Glaucoma Awareness Month in January, will present a glaucoma lecture and discussion program on Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. at the Asbury Methodist Village, Rosborough Community Rooms, 409 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. The event is free and open to the public with complimentary parking available.

Guy Eakin, Ph.D., Director of Research Grants, AHAF, will lead a discussion and share information about the most up-to-date, ground breaking research going on in the field of glaucoma. Learn about future treatments and possible cures being studied and participate in a lively question and answer conversation with Dr. Eakin.

Glaucoma is actually a group of eye diseases in which there is damage to the optic nerve which can lead to vision loss or if left untreated, ultimately to blindness. Glaucoma is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States. It is often called the “sneak thief of sight,” because it often has no symptoms until permanent visual damage has occurred. In the USA, there are over 3 million with glaucoma and as many as 120,000 are blind due to the disease.

“Glaucoma is treatable but incurable. It is our mission to find that cure,” said Dr. Eakin. He added, “Until that day comes, it is essential to remember that even with treatment, vision that has already been lost cannot be restored, this is why prompt diagnosis of this disease is so crucial.” Since glaucoma often begins with no apparent symptoms, the American Health Assistance Foundation urges everyone to get regular eye exams.

There are many different kinds of glaucoma including the most common type, open-angle glaucoma, caused by the buildup of fluids and pressure. Other types of glaucoma include: normal-tension glaucoma, a form of the disease in which optic nerve damage occurs with normal eye pressure; and closed-angle glaucoma which is rare and may be either chronic or occur quite suddenly when the normal flow of fluid between the iris and lens is blocked. Symptoms of this type of glaucoma include eye pain, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and seeing halos around lights. This is a medical emergency and needs prompt treatment as blindness can result in one or two days. Other forms of glaucoma are congenital, secondary, pigmentary, and neovascular glaucoma as well as pseudoexfoliation syndrome.

Who develops glaucoma? Glaucoma can occur in anyone at any age, however, there are specific risk factors. African Americans and Hispanics in the United States are particularly at risk as are people over age 60. All types of glaucoma tend to run in families. In addition, for open-angle glaucoma, other risk factors include high fluid pressure in the eye, suspicious optic nerve appearance, and thin corneas (Lasik surgery used to reduce a person's dependence on glasses causes the cornea to become thinner than normal; notify your doctor if you have had this procedure). Potential risk factors are severe nearsightedness, diabetes, eye injury or surgery, high blood pressure and use of corticosteroids (eye drops, pills, inhalers and creams).

What causes glaucoma? Researchers are actively exploring why damage occurs to the optic nerve; however, elevated eye pressure is a significant risk factor.

AHAF is working everyday to learn more about this devastating disease by funding research to look for additional treatment options and cures. To date, AHAF has funded over $100 million dollars in research in an effort to find cures for glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease.

For additional information and resources on glaucoma; and its causes, symptoms, treatment, coping strategies or research, contact the American Health Assistance Foundation by visiting the website at www.ahaf.org or calling 800-437-2423.

* Glaucoma estimates updated in June 2012

The American Health Assistance Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding cures for age-related and degenerative diseases by funding research worldwide on glaucoma, macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease. AHAF also provides the public with free information about these diseases, including risk factors, preventative lifestyles, available treatments and coping strategies.