The American Optometric Association emphasizes importance of comprehensive eye exams during National Glaucoma Awareness Month
Glaucoma can strike without pain or other symptoms and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), early detection and treatment is critical to maintain healthy vision and protect the eyes from the effects of potentially blinding diseases, such as glaucoma.
Awareness and understanding surrounding glaucoma is relatively low. According to data from the AOA's latest American Eye-Q® consumer survey, less than 20 percent of all Americans know that glaucoma primarily causes deterioration to peripheral vision.
The survey also indicated 50 percent of Americans incorrectly believe glaucoma is preventable. While the disease is not preventable, it is treatable, and regular, comprehensive eye exams play a critical role in successful outcomes for patients. The AOA recommends those who suffer from glaucoma have a dilated eye examination annually. More frequent exams may be needed if you notice additional changes in your vision.
"Those individuals who do not visit their eye doctor on a regular basis are putting their vision and quality of life at risk," said Gregory S. Wolfe, O.D., Chair of the AOA's Health Promotion Committee. "Vision lost to glaucoma cannot be restored, so early detection and treatment are important."
Americans also are not aware of the factors that put them most at risk for developing glaucoma. Only 16 percent of those surveyed indicated knowing that race or ethnicity may increase their risk. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, African Americans ages 45 to 65 are 14 to 17 times more likely to go blind from glaucoma than Caucasians. Other risk factors include people who have a family history of glaucoma, are over age 60, or have had severe eye trauma.
To find a doctor of optometry in your area, or for additional information on glaucoma and other issues concerning eye health, please visit www.aoa.org.
About the survey:
The sixth annual American Eye-Q® survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). From May 19-23, 2011 using an online methodology, PSB interviewed 1,000 Americans 18 years and older who embodied a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population. (Margin of error at 95 percent confidence level.)
The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country, and in 3,500 of those communities are the only eye doctors. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States.
American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient's overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Prior to optometry school, optometrists typically complete four years of undergraduate study, culminating in a bachelor's degree. Required undergraduate coursework for pre-optometry students is extensive and covers a wide variety of advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit www.aoa.org.