Costs Related to Glaucoma to Soar in Years to Come

January has been declared as National Glaucoma Awareness Month by Prevent Blindness and other leading eye health organizations.

To help educate the public on the “sneak thief of sight,” Prevent Blindness offers free information via online at the “Glaucoma Learning Center” ( or its toll free number at (800) 331-2020.

According to the 2014 Prevent Blindness study, “Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems,” more than 2.8 million Americans currently have glaucoma.

Those numbers are projected to jump by 50 percent by 2032. And there will be an estimated 92 percent increase, or 5.5 million cases, by 2050.

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. This nerve sends information from the eyes to the brain. When glaucoma damages the optic nerve, patches of vision are lost, usually side vision (peripheral vision).

Medical treatment costs related to glaucoma and disorders of the optic nerve are also projected to skyrocket in the coming years. Today, more than $6 billion is spent annually on the disease.

In 2032, the number jumps to $12 billion a year and by 2050, the annual medical treatment cost is estimated to be $17.3 billion.

In addition, the study also found that currently 64 percent of glaucoma patients are white and 20 percent are black. By 2050, most glaucoma patients will be non-white, due primarily to the rapid increase in Hispanic glaucoma patients. By 2050, blacks and Hispanics will each constitute about 20 percent of all glaucoma patients. By 2018, the largest age group of glaucoma patients will be 70-79. The largest age group will be 80-89 after 2032.