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January 3, 2022 - Updated 01.10.23

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

According to the National Eye Institute (NIH), Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States.

The month of January has been designated as National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Since glaucoma can be asymptomatic, many people are not even aware that they have the condition until they are diagnosed. National Glaucoma Awareness Month presents an excellent opportunity to promote awareness of the importance of regular screening for glaucoma as well as early detection and treatment of glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve of the eye. Oftentimes, this damage is a result of increased pressure within the eye. Glaucoma can be divided into two types- primary glaucoma and secondary glaucoma.

Risk factors
There are several categories of risk factors for developing  glaucoma including age, race/ethnicity, personal medical history, and family history.

Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of glaucoma depend on the type diagnosed. Glaucoma initially presents with peripheral vision loss. As it progresses and the optic nerve becomes more damaged, further vision loss and blindness can occur.

Screening and How is it diagnosed
The Medicare-covered preventive screening test used is the glaucoma screening test. Glaucoma is checked as part of a comprehensive dilated eye exam. This exam includes a tonometry test to measure the pressure within the eyes. The results of this test can assist the healthcare provider to determine whether the patient is at risk for glaucoma.

Treatment for glaucoma is focused on reducing intraocular pressure and slowing down the progression of the disease. Treatment options include medications, laser treatment, and glaucoma surgery, including minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS).

While there is currently no cure for glaucoma, with regular screening and follow-up care, glaucoma can be manageable. Prevention of vision loss is the goal of any glaucoma management plan.

  • Encourage your patients to schedule annual wellness visits and health screenings.
  • Discuss with your patients about the importance of regular, comprehensive eye examinations to maintain eye health. Medicare covers glaucoma screenings annually for those beneficiaries in high-risk groups.
  • Talk with your patients about the importance of staying active and regularly exercising.
  • Discuss with your patients the importance of using eye protection when there may be a chance of eye injury (such as when operating power tools or playing high-speed sports).
  • Monitor your patients’ blood glucose levels. Manage and treat accordingly. Educate your patients about the relationship between diabetes and glaucoma.
  • If your patients are currently on eyedrops to prevent glaucoma, review the importance of regularly taking medications. Address any questions they may have regarding the medications prescribed.

For More Information:
CMS Preventive Services Guidelines
External Website



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