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Three Million Americans Affected By The "Sneak Thief Of Sight"

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January is Glaucoma Awareness Month.

More than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. The National Eye Institute projects this number will reach 4.2 million by 2030. Glaucoma is called "the sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it's permanent. As much as 40 percent of vision can be lost without a person noticing a problem.

Dr. Kelsey Koerner is an optometrist at the Eye Care Center of Wausau. She says glaucoma can affect any age, but is most commonly found in people in their 40's...

"....the main way to detect glaucoma is through a thorough dilated eye exam. There are no signs the patient would notice(the problem). It is caused by elevated eye pressure in the eye but it typically is not felt by a patient...."

Dr. Koerner says if it appears there's a possibility of glaucoma, they will do more testing. At that point, patients can use prescribed eye drops to relieve pressure or surgery could be an option...

"....glaucoma is a group of progressive disorders that leads to damage in the optic nerve because the pressure in the eye is higher than it should be when then causes the damage. So the drops are used then to lower the pressure to prevent progression..."

In the United States, approximately 120,000 people are blind from glaucoma, accounting for about 10 percent of all cases of blindness. Dr. Koerner says early detection is key and recommends being tested by your eye care professional.

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