BALTIMORE, MD, January 9, 2019 – Versant Health, a leading national managed eye health and vision plan company, honors Glaucoma Awareness Month by showing how routine eye exams can save your vision, as well as point to conditions that increase the risk for glaucoma, as well as heart attack and stroke.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. In fact, more than 120,000 Americans are blind due to the disease. Worse yet, over three million people in the U.S. have glaucoma, yet only half of them are aware they have the disease. Glaucoma is marked by damage to the optic nerve due to excessive pressure in the eye itself, known as intraocular pressure.
“One common risk factor for glaucoma is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease – hypertension,” explains Dr. Mark Ruchman, Chief Medical Officer, Versant Health. “Specifically, elevated blood pressure can damage blood vessels in the retina. That’s why blood pressure may often be checked during an eye exam… because hypertension not only affects the heart, but can also lead to eye disease.”
Many people first learn of their risk for hypertension from their eye doctor. In one optometric practice alone, 21 percent of patients tested were found to have high blood pressure, yet 66.7% of them were unaware they had elevated levels.1
Just as high blood pressure can often have no symptoms in the early stages, the most common form of glaucoma (open-angle glaucoma) also has no symptoms. That’s why Versant Health encourages annual eye exams, particularly for people over the age of 50, to protect your vision as well as your health.
1Al Anazi SA, et al. Int J Ophthalmol.2015;8(3):612-21.
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