More than 2.2 million Americans, and over 60 million people around the world have glaucoma. The worst part of all is that half of this population doesn’t even know they have it, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

Glaucoma is often referred to as “the sneak thief of sight” because the disease has no symptoms and once vision is lost, it’s gone for good. Up to 40 percent of ones vision can be lost before they notice. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness.

In African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is the number one cause of blindness, coupled with the fact that it is significantly more common. Glaucoma is about six to eight times more prevalent in African Americans than Caucasians.

Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that attack the eye and gradually cause blindness. The most common forms of the disease affect the middle-aged and the elderly, though glaucoma can affect individuals in all age groups. Loss of vision usually occur when damage is done to the optic nerve. This nerve is linked to many other areas of the body and is the primary carrier of images from the eye to the brain.

Though there is currently no cure for glaucoma, medication or surgery can be utilized to slow the process of vision loss if caught early enough. Treatments often vary depending on the type of glaucoma an individual has.

The best way to protect your vision from glaucoma is to get your eyes examined on a regular basis. The sooner a diagnosis is made the sooner treatment can begin.

More From WFNT