V.I.P. encourages residents to take care of vision

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Vision loss can be a traumatic, according to those who have experienced it.

In an effort to educate the public, the Visually-Impaired People organization in Dallas County, as well as the American Academy of Ophthalmology recognize January as Glaucoma Awareness Month.

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“We want to encourage people to appreciate their vision if they have it, and if they start losing it, to go to an eye doctor right away,” said William Bowman, president and CEO of V.I.P.

According to information from the National Eye Institute, glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve, resulting in vision loss and blindness.

Those at risk for glaucoma include:

African Americans over age 40.

Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans.

People with a family history of glaucoma.

But, anyone can develop glaucoma, according to the National Eye Institute.

At first, glaucoma has no symptoms. It causes no pain. Vision stays normal.

But, if glaucoma remains untreated, there are some symptoms:

People may miss objects to the side and out of the corner of their eye.

People will slowly lose their peripheral (side) vision, as though they are looking through a tunnel.

Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains.

While vision lost from glaucoma cannot be restored, it can be treated. That is why it’s important to get treatment in the early stages of the disease.

“It’s a very traumatic thing,” Bowman said. “People don’t realize it until they go through it themselves.”

The first step is to see an eye doctor and have an eye exam.

There are several types of exams that will detect glaucoma, including a dilated eye exam, visual field test, visual acuity test and tonometry (an instrument that measures the pressure inside the eye).

To find out more about glaucoma, or about V.I.P., log on to www.vip-inc.org or call Bowman at 354-4015.

The V.I.P. web site has a link to the National Eye Institute, or you can log on to their Web site at www.nei.nih.gov.