Glaucoma Awareness Month

By Brandi Bailey

January 17, 2013 Updated Jan 18, 2013 at 1:57 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) It's estimated that more than two million American's have glaucoma. Only half are aware they have the disease.

Glaucoma is a disease involving pressure inside the eye, typically caused by damage to the optic nerve. It can be tricky to pin point.

"We can sometimes have a low pressure and have glaucoma, or we can have a high pressure and have glaucoma," said Dr. Angela Marx with Robert's Eyecare Associates.

There are several factors that go into diagnosing the disease, but with no real warning signs, doctors can only control certain aspects.

"The only factor we can control is the eye pressure which is why we treat that with drops. There are certain people at higher risk... African American's typically have it more often than Caucasians, but anyone can get it," Marx said.

Early signs of the disease are small, and when they are noticeable, it's often too late.

"You loose your peripheral vision first with glaucoma so people don't tend to notice their missing the sides of their vision," Marx said.

"If someone does not get the proper treatment you can go blind from glaucoma, but at that point you've started to realize something is wrong," he said.

Doctors stress the importance of annual eye exams for early detection to increase the effectiveness of treatment. There is no cure for glaucoma.

According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the world's second leading cause of blindness.