Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States but awareness is relatively low. The American Optometric Association's American Eye-Q survey indicated 86 percent of those asked didn't know what part of vision glaucoma affects -- deterioration to peripheral vision making it hard to see.
Seventy-two percent of respondents said glaucoma has early warning signs -- it does not -- but only an exam that dilates the eyes can show whether a person is at risk.
Regular eye exams are the first line of defense for early detection of glaucoma, which is treatable, officials at the American Optometric Association said.
The disease often strikes without pain or other symptoms, so it is crucial for patients to receive a dilated eye exam where their eye doctor can thoroughly examine the pressure and nerves inside the eyes for potential signs of the disease.
Eighty-six percent of American Eye-Q respondents said they were unaware a person's race places them at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. The Glaucoma Research Foundation said glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African-Americans than Caucasians. Other risk factors include those who have a family history of glaucoma, hypothyroidism, people age 60 and older, or individuals who have had severe eye trauma.
The survey of 1,009 U.S. adults was created and conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates May 9-16. Margin of error at 95 percent confidence level.