Quality of care for Veteran’s includes raising awareness around important health topics. By highlighting some of the national health awareness campaigns each month, Veterans can get ideas, information, and resources on a variety of health matters.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, and one of the best New Year's resolutions a Veteran can make is to get an eye exam.
Over one-and-a-half million Veterans have a vision-threatening eye disease, including 285,000 with glaucoma, which makes January a perfect time to remind all Veterans to take action now to prevent this sight-stealing disease.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, leading to vision loss or even blindness. Glaucoma usually starts without any symptoms. Later, there is some loss of side vision. Objects straight ahead are seen clearly, but objects to the side are missed. As the disease worsens, the ability to see objects on the side is increasingly lost, and eventually the center of vision is affected.
African-American Veterans should especially get their eyes checked regularly, as glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African-Americans than Caucasians. Also, among Hispanic populations, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness.
VA’s Center of Excellence for the Prevention and Treatment of Visual Loss is helping to solve this problem through new methods of detection and developing new treatment strategies. For example, VA now has portable digital eye cameras paired with cutting-edge software that automatically analyzes images of the eye to diagnose glaucoma and determine if it's changing with time. New research is also looking at new molecules that protect the optic nerve from damage and help preserve vision in addition to lowering eye pressure all together.
What can you do? Get tested for glaucoma right away! It is a painless procedure, and early diagnosis of glaucoma may reduce the damage of your eye and even save your eyesight.
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