Charity Spotlight: January is Glaucoma Awareness Month
One of the many ways the majority of disease-related charities can succeed in their efforts is by raising awareness about these afflictions during wellness observance months. In January, it's time to learn more about glaucoma which has been called the "sneak thief of sight." It's commonly a silent progression that leads to blindness when left undiagnosed and untreated.
According to the Ohio-based Prevent Blindness organization, there are an estimated 3.7 million Americans living with glaucoma and that includes nearly 106,000 Ohioans diagnosed with this disease. But what is glaucoma and why is it so dangerous? Are there symptoms, a cure, or treatments available?
More About Glaucoma From the GRF
The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is an excellent resource for learning more about this progressive disease including receiving free literature about Understanding and Living With Glaucoma. For those unaware and potentially undiagnosed, glaucoma is a complex, progressive disease causing damage to the optic nerve that leads to irreversible vision loss.
More Stats and Facts
First, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness globally according to recent stats and facts from GRF. Everyone is at risk for developing glaucoma from infants to seniors while older people are more susceptible along with younger African Americans. Currently, there is currently no cure for glaucoma, something that continued research from the GRF is hoping to change along with altering these frightening facts:
- Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, accounts for 19% of all blindness among African Americans compared to 6% in Caucasians.
- It's estimated that 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma and as many as half may not even know they have this disease
- Along with the elderly, those at high risk include family members of those diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are nearsighted.
One of the problems with undiagnosed glaucoma, there is usually no pain associated with this disease. For those who have glaucoma and don't realize it, often the loss of sight begins very slowly with peripheral vision loss, and people compensate by turning their heads to see.
Symptoms and Treatments
There are typically no symptoms other than gradual vision loss for open-angle glaucoma, again it's the most common type of this disease. However, angle-closure or narrow-angle glaucoma is caused by blocked drainage canals in the eye and causes pressure many people may feel. This is a much rarer form of glaucoma which develops rapidly and demands immediate medical attention.
Treatments depend on different circumstances and the type of glaucoma that is present. Potential options include laser treatment, surgery, medications such as prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) pills, and eye drops. Obviously is best to consult a qualified eye professional rather than attempt to treat this disease with OTC options and alternatives.
Research and a Catalyst for the Cure
In hopes of finding a cure for glaucoma and other incurable diseases, continued research is vital. Knowing more about these conditions, what may cause them, whether they're hereditary, and other concerns will also lead to better treatments. Better and more effective treatments have the potential of prolonging vision, avoiding complete vision loss, and blindness in the future with those suffering from glaucoma.
Research continues with the Catalyst for a Vision Restoration Initiative at the GRF that depends largely on donations, volunteer resources, and fundraising efforts. The goal of this group of collaborative researchers is exploring and developing new strategies to protect retinal cells from glaucoma. They're reporting ongoing progress and are hoping to discover new pathways to reconnect damaged or destroyed optic nerves and even replace these cells to restore or retain eyesight.
Buckeye Broadband Supports Local Charities
Buckeye Broadband is proud to support research to prevent this often devastating disease. Buckeye has supported the Sight Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people of all ages to live independently despite permanent vision loss, for 20+ years. We encourage you to visit their website to learn more about the good they do and the opportunities they offer.
If you have questions about how to support non-profit organizations in Ohio, please feel free to contact us. We believe in giving back to our community and encourage our neighbors to do the same in supporting local charities in our area. Follow our giving local blog for more information on local charities and how to support them!