2008-11-20 / Local & State

SCBA Designates November 23-30 As "Thanks For Sight Week"

The South Central Blind Association ("SCBA") is asking everyone to join them in recognizing November 23-30 as "Thanks for Sight" week. During this time SCBA is promoting awareness of glaucoma, a leading cause of visual impairment often referred to as the "sneak thief of sight" because you can lose up to 20 percent of your vision before you realize there is a problem. Experts estimate that 3 million people may have glaucoma and that half of them may not know they have it.

Glaucoma destroys peripheral vision and is caused primarily by increased pressure from blocked or narrowing drainage channels in the eye. Think of your eye as a sink, in which the faucet is constantly running and the drain is always open. Aqueous humor is the fluid that circulates through your eye and keeps it nourished. When this drain becomes clogged, it causes the fluid to back up. But since the eye is a closed compartment, your 'sink' doesn't overflow; instead, the backed-up fluid causes increased pressure to build up within the eye. This causes pressure on the optic nerve, which carries images from the eye to the brain. With open angle glaucoma, the most common form, there are no symptoms because there is usually no pain associated with this form of the disease.

Glaucoma most often occurs in adults over age 40, but it can also occur in young adults, children and even infants. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans, according to the National Eye Institute. African Americans age 45-65 are 14-17 times more likely to go blind from glaucoma than Caucasians with glaucoma in the same age group.

"Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to preserving sight in people with glaucoma", according to Abby Dively, executive director of the South Central Blind Association. "We strongly urge everyone to have a comprehensive eye examination, including a test for glaucoma, every two years. If there is a family history of glaucoma, annual screenings are essential."

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