Glaucoma is called the sight stealing disease, because it sneaks up on you by stealing your outer vision with no warning signs. It can leave you blind.
The risk is three times greater among African Americans, and since September is National Glaucoma Awareness month, the American Academy of Opthalmology has produced a 30 minute video called Glaucoma and You, A Guide to African Americans. Two people from Lubbock are featured in this program which is being televised in some cities.
First, Dr. Roy Wilson, who is president of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and an internationally recognized Glaucoma researcher. The other person is Dorothy Phea, long time Lubbock educator and community volunteer. On our 5:00 news today, Dr. Wilson emphasized that a strong message in this video is that a vision test every year is not enough to protect against glaucoma.
"Sometimes you can have Glaucoma even if the pressure is normal. It is very important that someone takes a look at the inside of the eye at the optic nerve. Glaucoma really is a disease of the optic nerve, so if you have any suspicions at all get a visual field of vision test this looks at your field of vision because you could be looking at differences in your field and since you can see in some fields you may not even know it," says Dr. Wilson.
Dr. Wilson says studies show that one year after patients begin eyedrop treatment for Glaucoma, 50 to 70 percent will stop taking the drops, and that's scary because that eyedrop prescription, when taken as directed, can prevent Glaucoma and save your eyesight. Aside from Dorothy Phea, two other patients are featured in the video. Baseball legend Willie Mays and singing superstar Dianne Carroll. Both say they could be blind today if they had not been tested regularly for glaucoma, and taken measures to prevent it.
This 30 minute video is available to churches or groups. If you'd like more information on the program, call the Office of Communications at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. That number is 743-2143.