(HealthDay)—Glaucoma affects more than three million Americans, but that number is expected to surge to more than four million by 2030, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
In many cases, the condition isn't detected until people lose peripheral vision. Eventually, glaucoma may cause people to permanently lose up to 40 percent of their vision, the foundation added.
Worldwide, 4.5 million people are blind due to glaucoma, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, up to 12 percent of all cases of blindness stem from the disease. Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are disproportionately affected, the Glaucoma Research Foundation notes. Others at greater risk for glaucoma include older individuals, people with relatives who have glaucoma, those with diabetes, and people who are very nearsighted.
As the population ages, a blindness epidemic may develop if glaucoma awareness doesn't increase and more people don't get routine eye exams, the foundation warns. The group says the best way people can protect their vision is to have regular comprehensive eye exams, which can lead to earlier detection and treatment.
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