Thursday, January 17, 2013

South Asians are at higher risk of glaucoma - January is Glaucoma Awareness Month

Look out South Asians living in North America! You have a higher risk of glaucoma than other ethnicities, according to a new American study that looked at glaucoma risk among Asian Americans, including those of Indian and Pakistani ancestry. While the study looked at Americans, the findings will likely apply to Canadians who share a similar diet and lifestyle.

The study concluded that, among Asian Americans, Japanese Americans have the highest risk (9.5%) followed by Indian and Pakistani Americans (7.7%) of open angle glaucoma, the most common variant of the disease.

If you have a high risk of glaucoma, the best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to see the eye doctor at least once a year. Glaucoma can only be detected early enough in an optometric eye examination. It does not cause pain or blurriness or other obvious symptoms. That is why doctors often call glaucoma the "silent thief of sight". The disease is so gradual that you will likely not know that you have suffered permanent vision loss, beginning with your peripheral vision. Some people with undiagnosed glaucoma are no longer legal to drive and don't know it. Read this older post for more about glaucoma.

For optometrists and ophthalmologists, this study means that they need to carefully examine their Asian patients and check both the pressure inside he eye and assess the condition of the optic nerve as well as perform visual field testing where appropriate.