You may know that February is Black History Month – but did you know that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month? If you’re wondering why these two are tied together, consider this: African-Americans are especially vulnerable to glaucoma, which is one of the most dangerous eye conditions. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to vision impairment and even blindness. What’s more, once this happens, the damage is permanent, as there is no way to reverse the damage caused by glaucoma.
So why are African-Americans particularly at risk for developing glaucoma – and if you’re part of this group, what can you do to protect your health?
We are still researching why African-Americans are more likely to develop glaucoma. Interestingly enough, another ethnicity that carries a significantly elevated list of developing glaucoma is Hispanics. It’s estimated that these two ethnicities are six times more likely to develop glaucoma than any other ethnicity. That means African-Americans and Hispanics need to be extremely careful in monitoring the health of their vision.
While we don’t know everything there is to know about glaucoma, it is worth noting that this disease appears to be genetic. Many studies have shown that glaucoma can be passed down through the generations; therefore, if someone in your immediate family has had it, your chances of developing glaucoma significantly increase. What’s more, studies have shown that siblings of people who have been diagnosed with glaucoma are much more likely to have glaucoma themselves. With this in mind, it’s worth paying attention to the eye health of your family members, as it may have profound implications for your own ocular well-being.
Glaucoma can be difficult to catch because the symptoms often only appear once the disease has reached an advanced state. Glaucoma steals your vision like a thief in the night. So you should see an ophthalmologist at least once a year.
You should also schedule regular appointments if you meet the following criteria:
- You’re over the age of 40
- You have extreme nearsightedness
- You suffer from diabetes
- You’re of African or Hispanic descent
- You suffer from hypertension
- Have sleep apnea
- You’ve used steroid medication for a significant period of time
For regular eye check-ups and advanced glaucoma care, schedule an appointment with Dr. Renee Bovelle of Envision Eye & Laser Center in Bowie, Maryland – also serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, DC areas.
Call (301) 805 – 4664 for to schedule an appointment today.