KEEP YOUR EYE ON GLAUCOMA

World Glaucoma Day on March 12 raises awareness about glaucoma and the importance of early detection.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and affects over 70 million people of all races and social classes. It is called the ‘silent thief of sight’ because there are usually no early symptoms or warnings signs. This means most people who have glaucoma are unaware of it, until the disease is at an advanced stage. Symptoms then could include poor sight in dim light and blurring of vision. If left untreated, glaucoma causes permanent loss of vision and may lead to blindness because of a pressure build-up in the eye that damages the optic nerve. This nerve is essential for sight because it carries all the information from your eye to your brain. Once the optic nerve has been damaged, it cannot be repaired. This is why it is important to have regular eye checks. An eye specialist will be able to spot glaucoma before the optic nerve has been severely damaged.

Need to know

  • Glaucoma usually cannot be cured and requires lifelong treatment. Because of this, early detection of glaucoma is essential to improve the chances of preventing vision loss and blindness in later life.
  • Glaucoma often requires ongoing treatments. These include lowering the pressure in the eye by using eye drops, lasers and/or surgery.
  • If you have glaucoma risk factors, you should go for an eye examination and pressure check at least once a year.

Glaucoma Support

There are a number of organisations that support people with glaucoma including: The Glaucoma Foundation (www.glaucomafoundation.org) and the International Glaucoma Association (www.glaucoma-association.com)

Risk factors

Anyone can develop glaucoma. Risk factors include:

  •  Medical diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and frequent migraines.
  • Tablets or eye drops containing cortisone.
  • Close family members with glaucoma.
  • Being short or farsighted.
  • African or Asian descent.
  • People over 40 are more likely to develop glaucoma.
  • Eye injuries.
  • Cataract.
 
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