Glaucoma Awareness Month: Have you had your eyes checked lately?

Eye health organizations have declared January as Glaucoma Awareness Month, and it's a good reminder to diabetics about the importance of getting regular eye exams.

Prevent Blindness, an organization dedicated to preserving eye health, suggests that people with diabetes have a 40 percent higher risk of developing glaucoma than those without the blood sugar condition.

The 'sneak thief of sight'

Glaucoma is referred to as the "sneak thief of sight" because there are no symptoms associated with the condition. Up to 40 percent of a person's vision can be lost without the individual even noticing, reports the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Once vision is lost, the effects are permanent.

Worse yet, about half of all people with glaucoma don't even know they have the condition, and it is the leading cause of preventable blindness.

Tips for raising awareness

The Glaucoma Research Foundation suggests that you tell your friends and family if you have glaucoma – don't keep it a secret. Additionally, you can find more information about the condition by visiting www.glaucoma.org.

Knowing your risk factors for glaucoma can also help with early detection and treatment. If you have a family history of the condition, are 40 or older, have had eye surgery or injuries or if you have diabetes, you're more likely to develop glaucoma.

More information about Medicare coverage for glaucoma, eye care and health insurance can be found in Prevent Blindness' free fact sheets.

Source: Prevent Blindness, Glaucoma.org

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