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Knowing Your Risks Can Stop the Sneak Thief of Sight
Date:1/3/2008

African and Hispanic ethnic groups and others with a family history of

glaucoma are particularly vulnerable

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Glaucoma is a stealthy illness; most people have no early symptoms and do not notice as their peripheral vision diminishes or blind spots occur. As a result, about half of the three million Americans with the disease are unaware of their condition. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and through the EyeSmart(TM) Campaign, the American Academy of Ophthalmology and EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, want to remind people that knowing your risk for the disease can save your sight. If untreated, glaucoma ultimately results in blindness.

"Glaucoma can be a 'sneak thief' illness, and currently there is no treatment to restore vision once it's lost," said Kuldev Singh, MD, MPH, Professor of Ophthalmology and Director of the Glaucoma Service at Stanford University School of Medicine, and clinical correspondent for the Academy. "But when we catch glaucoma early and closely monitor and treat people, we can significantly slow its progression and minimize vision loss."

Because glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable blindness, the American Glaucoma Society and the Glaucoma Research Foundation are joining the Academy and EyeCare America in urging Americans to know their risks for the disease.

Among Americans, higher risk groups include those of African or Hispanic heritage and others with a family history of the illness. Elderly individuals with African ancestry are five times more likely to develop glaucoma and 14 to 17 times more likely to become blind than similar aged individuals with European ancestry. The risk for Hispanic Americans rises markedly after age 60. Those of any ethnicity who have a family history of the illness are four to nine times more susceptible.

A national survey commissioned in
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SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology
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