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Glaucoma Can Cause Blindness in Youth and in Older Age; The Minnesota Optometric Association Urges Early Detection and Treatment.

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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S. for those over forty, but most people do not realize that it also occurs at much earlier ages. The Minnesota Optometric Association (MOA) urges early detection with regular eye exams to prevent vision loss. Family eye doctors successfully treat glaucoma with medications on a daily basis to arrest progression of the disease, and can also treat ocular hypertension, an increase in the pressure in the eyes that causes glaucoma.

Recent research supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI) found a gene that causes a form of glaucoma that starts at a young age, the first glaucoma gene ever located. Risk factors for open angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, are family history, diabetics, those who are very nearsighted and people of African-American descent.

"January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and what better time than to start the new year by doing something proactive about your eyesight," says Dr. Michael Perez, president of the MOA and a family eye doctor in Park Rapids, Minnesota. "The most common type of glaucoma develops painlessly and without symptoms, so we recommend that people with higher risk factors have a comprehensive eye exam by a family eye doctor more frequently and at a younger age."

Glaucoma results when ocular hypertension results in optic nerve damage. Whether or not a person develops glaucoma depends on the level of pressure that the optic nerve can tolerate without being damaged. This is differs by individual. During an exam, the family eye doctor checks the pressure in the eyes with an instrument called a tonometer, and can examine the inner structure of the eyes to assess overall eye health.

A rare type of glaucoma occurs rapidly, often accompanied by blurred vision, loss of side vision, seeing colored rigs around lights and pain or redness in the eye.

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The Minnesota Optometric Association has 525 member doctors of optometry around the state. The MOA is committed to furthering awareness of optometrists as primary eye care or family eye doctors and to bringing about change that positively impacts the MOA member doctors and their patients.

For more information, or to set up an interview, please call Jenni Dow at (651) 426-2891, Joan Knight at (612) 349-2716 or Jim Meffert-Nelson, executive director of the Minnesota Optometric Association, at (952) 841-1122 or (800) 678-8232
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Dec 17, 2002
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