Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blindness from Glaucoma Halved/Glaucoma Awareness Month

"The probability of blindness due to the serious eye disease glaucoma has decreased by nearly half since 1980, according to a study published this month in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology," according to Medical News Today. "The researchers speculate that advances in diagnosis and therapy are likely causes for the decrease, but caution that a significant proportion of patients still progress to blindness." Read more.

Meanwhile the National Eye Institute tardily notes that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.

Glaucoma is sometimes called the "silent thief of sight" because it slowly damages the eyes and can cause irreparable harm before there is any vision loss. But this disease is stealthy in more ways than one. Glaucoma has been known at least since antiquity, and yet, researchers today still do not know what causes it in most cases. There are treatments to delay vision loss, but no cure, making it a leading cause of blindness all over the world. Read more.

"Primary open-angle glaucoma remains a black box, but researchers are pursuing many avenues to investigate the underlying causes. As we develop a better understanding of the disease process, we hope this will lead to new, more effective treatments and possibly even preventive therapies for it," said Hemin Chin, Ph.D., director of the Glaucoma and Optic Neuropathies program at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

According to the 2013 "Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States," report, glaucoma and disorders of the optic nerve annually cost $5.8 billion, with an annual per-person treatment cost of $2,170. Today, more than 2.7 million Americans ages 40 and older have open-angle glaucoma. With the population of older Americans continuing to increase, these numbers will only grow. Read more.

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