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Patients and medical professionals may call 1-800-533-UPMC (8762) for more information.

UPMC Eye Center Experts Stress the Need for Awareness of Glaucoma, the ‘Sneak Thief of Sight’

In Support of the First-Ever World Glaucoma Day March 6

PITTSBURGH , March 6, 2008 — The second-leading cause of blindness worldwide, glaucoma usually has no symptoms until it’s too late – leaving about half of people with the disease unaware of having it until they experience vision loss. Regular screenings for glaucoma are the best way to detect the disease early, and since damage caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, these screenings are vital – especially for those at high risk of developing the disease.

“Glaucoma can be treated, and sight can be preserved – if the disease is detected early and treatment follows,” said Joel Schuman, M.D., director of the UPMC Eye Center and chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Being examined by an ophthalmologist at least every two years after age 40 is key to prevent blindness.”

World Glaucoma Day is being recognized for the first time on Thursday, March 6 and aims to increase glaucoma awareness. To support this worldwide endeavor, the UPMC Eye Center provides these facts about glaucoma and tips for proper eye health:

Known as the “sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma can affect anyone. 

Defined, it is a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma has no cure and, for most types of the disease, its early symptoms go unnoticed. However, many treatment options are available that can help manage the effects of glaucoma, especially if the disease is detected early.

Early detection is the key to preserving the vision of people with glaucoma. 

Undergoing a complete eye examination by your eye care professional is the best way to detect glaucoma. The average, healthy adult should be screened for glaucoma:

  • At least once between ages 20 and 29
  • At least twice between ages 30 and 39
  • Every two years from ages 40 to 65
  • Every one to two years after age 65

Those at risk for glaucoma should be screened regularly, as directed by a doctor.

You should discuss your risk for glaucoma with your doctor, but some risk factors include:

  • Being over age 40
  • Having a family history of glaucoma or another eye disease
  • Being African-American or of African or Latin heritage
  • Having eye surgery, or experiencing a serious eye injury
  • Using steroids for a long period of time
  • Having diabetes, high blood pressure or another chronic illness

For more information about glaucoma and other eye health issues, or to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist, please call 412-647-2200 or visit the UPMC Eye Center’s web site at http://eyecenter.upmc.com.  

Note to editors:  To arrange an interview with Dr. Schuman on the latest advances in screening and treatment of glaucoma, or to interview another expert at the UPMC Eye Center, please contact Stacey Simon at 412-647-3555 or e-mail SimonSL@upmc.edu.

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