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Don't be blind to the risk of blindness.

The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness (NSPB) is concerned that few adults take the necessary steps to reduce their risk of glaucoma, een though many adults believe that blindness is the worst disability that could happen to them.

"Most Americans do not realize that glaucoma is a serious, irreversible eye disease that offers little or no warning in its early stages," says NSPB Medical Director Dr. Maurice Rabb. "Appointments for eye exams are usually made only after people began experiencing symptoms. But by this time, a significant portion of vision may have already been lost."

Glaucoma is associated with the affected eye's inability to drain away adequately the fluid constantly being produced within the eyeball. The buildup of fluid pressure on the retina damages the delicate optic nerve and may cause permanent vision loss.

Nearly half of the 2-3 million Americans who develop glaucoma do not know they have it. For reasons yet unknown, certain groups are at higher risk than others--African-Americans over 40, others over 60, diabetics, persons taking steroid medications, those who hve suffered an eye injury earlier in life, and persons with a family history of glaucoma.

Although vision lost to glaucoma is irreversible, steps can be taken to control the disease--drops, pills, laser treatment, surgery, or a combination of these. It can only be arrested if detected early--which means a comprehensive eye examination, including pupil dilation.
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Title Annotation:glaucoma
Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 1994
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