January is Glaucoma Awareness Month
According to the National Eye Institute, glaucoma is a group of diseases that destroys vision by attacking the optic nerve. African Americans over age 40, everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans, and people with a family history of the disease have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
The Signs of Glaucoma
- Moving the head hesitantly while walking or walking close to or reaching for the wall
- Bumping into objects that are off to the side, near the head, or at foot level
- Trouble reading, writing, or doing activities in a dimly lit room.
Like most diseases, when glaucoma is discovered early on, it is easier to fight. In order to detect the disease's onset, annual eye exams are recommended. You or a loved one may benefit greatly from a dilated eye exam.
The good news for at-risk populations? Medicare covers an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam for some people at higher risk for glaucoma. These people include those with diabetes, those with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans aged 50 and older, and Hispanics/Latinos aged 65 and older. Check your eligibility for preventative exams on the Medicare website.
You may also find a quick reference list to Medicare Preventative Services. For additional information about preventative benefits in New York State, visit the New York State Office for the Aging web site.
If you'd like to learn more about aging and vision loss, please view this Powerpoint presentation. The presentation was prepared by VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. You'll learn about the statistics surrounding prevention and fear of aging vision.
Did You Know?
A new online resource for people with low vision is also available. Living Well with Low Vision was developed from the point of view of patients and patient advocates.
The site is designed with viewing accommodations for differing levels of vision loss, searchable resource directories, a database of 1,500 municipal paratransit services; a bevy of self-help texts for people/caregivers, and an blog to raise awareness about day-to-day issues. Patient advocate and low vision educator Dan Roberts, M.M.E., is editor-in-chief of the web site.