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World Glaucoma Day Set For March 12, 2009
Date:2/12/2009

The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary Joins International Observance To Draw Attention To "The Sneak Thief of Sight"

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an effort to combat one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Organization have set March 12, 2009, as the second annual World Glaucoma Day. The day will be marked by awareness and educational events organized by eye care institutions and local patient support groups on every continent, as listed on www.wgday.net.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States and the leading cause in African-Americans. About 50% of persons with glaucoma in the United States are unaware that they have it, while this number can reach 90% in developing countries.

Known as "the sneak thief of sight," glaucoma is characterized by gradual loss of vision resulting from death of the cells in the eye which transmit visual images through the optic nerve to the brain. As the optic nerve becomes increasingly damaged, permanent vision loss occurs and can result in blindness. Early detection is the key to treating and halting the effects of glaucoma.

"Because glaucoma strikes so silently and gradually, it is absolutely crucial to educate people about the value of early detection," said Robert Ritch, MD, professor and chief of glaucoma services at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, co-founder of the World Glaucoma Patient Association, and member of the World Glaucoma Day committee for the World Glaucoma Association. "For a disease that causes permanent blindness, it is truly unacceptable that so many people remain unaware of its impact and consequences."

To emphasize the universal importance of early detection, Dr. Ritch and colleagues plan a glaucoma screening for dele
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SOURCE The New York Eye & Ear Infirmary
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