Over 65 million people worldwide are thought to have glaucoma. 85% of these are unaware they have the disease and are therefore not receiving vital treatment. In Australia it is estimated over 300,000 people have glaucoma – with half undiagnosed.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve (our nerve of sight) at the back of the eye is slowly and permanently destroyed. This damage commonly occurs because of raised intra-ocular pressure.
Glaucoma is often referred to as the “sneak thief of sight”. It results in vision loss, usually starting with the peripheral or side vision. Because changes, in most cases, occur very slowly, people are often unaware there is anything wrong with their eyes. Glaucoma cannot be self-detected.
Although anyone can be diagnosed with this eye condition some people are at higher risk. Risk factors include:
- age (particularly if you are 50 years and over)
- family history of glaucoma
- having myopia (short sighted) or hyperopia (long sighted)
- medical conditions such as diabetes or migraine
- prolonged use of steroids (cortisone) used to treat other conditions
- previous eye injury (even decades ago)
There is no cure for glaucoma. However, with treatment further vision loss can usually be prevented. The important message is to always remember to have regular and comprehensive eye checks so that glaucoma can be detected and treated early. Never take your eyes for granted.
For more information visit www.glaucoma.org.au