LatinaLista — This week is being globally recognized as World Glaucoma Week.
Called the “silent disease,” glaucoma affects almost 70 million people worldwide and 2.2 million in the United States. Of that U.S. population, Mexican-Americans over age 60 are at a higher risk for contracting the disease and eventually losing their eyesight.
For one simple reason — not going to the doctor for regular eye exams.
Since part of getting older is losing eyesight strength, nobody takes much notice when they have to keep returning to their local store to buy stronger reading glasses. If they have high blood pressure, they understand how that affects their heart — but not their eyesight.
People with glaucoma have high eye pressure, something that doesn’t hurt or can even be felt. Experts say that by the time some people discover they have glaucoma, they’ve already had 40 percent of their optic nerve damaged.
Glaucoma is not reversible and if not treated does lead to blindness but it can be detected early and treatment started before it gets too bad — if people go for eye exams.
An international campaign called All Eyes on Glaucomaâ„¢ launched this week to raise awareness about the disease via a multi-lingual web site featuring information about glaucoma, its risk factors, an online video series highlighting tips on how to maintain good eye health and a sampling of personal stories shared by people who discovered they had glaucoma.
With Mexican-Americans comprising the largest share of the Latino demographic and medically identified as being the Latino subgroup at highest risk for glaucoma, it makes perfect sense for these families to take a proactive approach in forestalling a disease that doesn’t just rob a person of their eyesight but the joy of seeing their loved ones.