There are 300,000 Australians with glaucoma – that’s roughly the population of Canberra, and you could be one of the estimated 150,000 who don’t know they have it.
Early detection is vital to preserve vision because by the time symptoms develop, significant sight loss has usually occurred. Glaucoma is truly the ‘sneak thief of sight’.
The optic nerve carries vision messages from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage this nerve and unfortunately vision loss from glaucoma cannot be recovered.
Glaucoma can occur at any age and the risk increases as you age. A regular and comprehensive eye check from age 50 is your best defence against all eye diseases, especially glaucoma. If you have risk factors such as a positive family history of glaucoma (ask your family), or are of African descent; start getting regular eye health checks from age 40.
A Few Glaucoma Facts
• Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide
• One in eight Australians over 80 will develop glaucoma
• First degree relatives of glaucoma patients have a ten-fold increased risk of developing the disease
• 50% of people with glaucoma in Australia are undiagnosed
• The total annual cost of glaucoma is expected to increase to $4.3 billion by 2025
Glaucoma is detected by a simple check of the optic nerve head (the optic disc) at the back of the eye, and tests to measure eye pressure and your field of vision may also be done. Asking your eye health practitioner, “How’s my optic disc?” helps to ensure your glaucoma status is being comprehensively reviewed.
Treatment can usually prevent further deterioration and may consist of eye drops and/or laser, and in some cases surgery is used. So don’t delay, get your eyes checked and protect your precious sight.