As we finish out the first month of the new year, we wanted to bring attention to a very important topic that is often overlooked: eye health. Many of us wear glasses or contacts, or even just use reading glasses occasionally, but we may take for granted the health of our eyes, which are just as prone to disease as other parts of our bodies. January of each year is Glaucoma Awareness Month, which was created in order to spread awareness about this serious disease.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, with more than 3 million Americans currently affected, and displays no symptoms. It can affect people of all ages, but the most common types usually impact older populations. Additionally, there are certain risk factors for glaucoma, including belonging to certain racial or ethnic groups or having a family history of the disease. You can read more about potential risk factors here. Beneficiaries, and especially individuals with these risk factors, should take advantage of Medicare Part B, which covers a yearly screening for glaucoma. This test is performed by your eye doctor, and can help with early detection. Learn more about how Part B covers testing options here.
There is currently no cure for glaucoma, but scientists are continuously working to develop medications and surgical techniques to slow and prevent further vision loss in those affected. Still, there are many treatment options available for patients with glaucoma, including different medications and types of eye drops. Medicare Part D may be able to cover some of the costs of these prescriptions, so make sure you are enrolled in the right plan for you and know what drugs are included in your coverage. A great resource for finding a plan that works for you is the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, a resource that may be helpful in identifying a plan that covers your health-related needs.
Eye health is extremely important, and being informed about glaucoma risks and prevention is just one aspect of keeping your eyes healthy. Regular doctor’s visits and self-monitoring are also important to making sure your eyes are functioning properly. We are optimistic for a cure for glaucoma, and in the meantime, you can help this effort by getting involved in initiatives to eradicate the disease. The Glaucoma Research Foundation has some ideas for ways to help, so take a look and make sure you are doing your part this January to help support healthy eye function for all!