Observance held March 8-14

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Eye Institute is joining forces with The World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) to raise global awareness of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, yet 90 percent of cases could have been prevented. Globally, nine million people are blind from it – a statistic that will increase as the population ages and grows. Owing to the silent progression of the disease in its early stages up to 50 percent of affected individuals in developed countries are not aware of having glaucoma and are receiving no treatment. This number rises to 90 percent in less developed parts of the world.

“Glaucoma is known as the ‘sneak thief of sight’ because in almost all cases, there are no symptoms, like pain or sudden vision loss. You only recognize the loss of sight when a lot of damage has occurred,” Ronald Gross, M.D., director of the WVU Eye Institute and chair of the WVU Department of Ophthalmology, said. “If diagnosed early and treated, most vision loss can be prevented. You have to be checked with a full eye exam to be sure.”

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain. If left untreated, most types of glaucoma progress (without warning or obvious symptoms to the patient) toward gradually worsening visual damage and possible blindness. This visual damage is mostly irreversible.

Currently, regular eye exams are the best form of prevention against significant glaucoma damage. Early detection and careful, lifelong treatment can maintain vision in most people. In general, a check for glaucoma should be done:

  • before age 40, every two to four years
  • from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
  • from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
  • after age 65, every six to 12 months

A nationally recognized center for vision care, research, education, and outreach, the WVU Eye Institute provides the full range of eye care under one roof — from routine exams to subspecialty medical and surgical treatment and laser vision correction. Each year, more than 35,000 patients from all over West Virginia and surrounding states receive treatment at the WVU Eye Institute.

To learn more about the WVU Eye Institute or to make an appointment, call 304-598-4820 or visit http://wvuhealthcare.com/hospitals-and-facilities/eye-institute/.

To learn more about World Glaucoma Week 2015, visit http://www.wgweek.net.