This week marks the beginning of World Glaucoma Week 12th – 18th March. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, with one in eight Australians over the age of 80 developing the condition. It is a disease that as an Optometrist, I see on a daily basis and witness first hand the impact Glaucoma has on patients. Frustratingly though over 50% of people with Glaucoma are undiagnosed and do not see an Optometrist until their vision is affected. World Glaucoma week aims to educate on this sight threatening disease worldwide.
In today’s blog we will be answering the following questions:
What is it? Who is at risk? Can I prevent it? How is it treated?
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye – a result of blockage of the circulation of aqueous, or its drainage. In other patients the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibres themselves.
Glaucoma causes progressive damage to the vision; it does so without warning till later in the disease process and while treatment is effective in arresting the disease, it cannot reverse damage caused previously. Over 300,000 Australians have glaucoma. While it is more common as people age, it can occur at any age.
This means the earlier the diagnosis, the less damage done and the more vision there is to save.
Who is at risk?
Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people have a higher risk. Those with:
- a family history of glaucoma
- short sightedness (myopia)
- long sightedness (hyperopia)
- eye injuries
- blood pressure
- past or present use of cortisone drugs (steroids)
People in these groups should have their first eye check no later than the age of 35. For most people, it is recommended to have an eye check for glaucoma by the age of 40. If no glaucoma is found, the NHMRC (2010) Guidelines recommend regular eye health checks for Caucasians over the age of 50 & for those of African & Asian descent regular checks over the age of 40 years, because of the higher prevalence in the latter groups.
Can I prevent it?
Early detection, through regular and complete eye exams, is the ONLY way to protect your vision from damage caused by glaucoma. Your Envision Optical optometrist always performs a thorough examination of the optic nerve and checks your intraocular pressure at every full examination. We recommend Digital Retinal Photography as the best method of recording the optic nerve health. If glaucoma is suspected, we will recommend undergoing computerised peripheral visual field assessment, OCT nerve scan, OCT corneal thickness assessment, and gonioscopy. Make sure your local Optometrist does the same when you are getting your eyes tested.
How is Glaucoma treated?
If you are suspected of having glaucoma you will be referred to an ophthalmologist for confirmation. Most patients can be successfully treated using eye drops. This has been shown to be an effective treatment to prevent progressive nerve damage. There is no permanent cure & treatment is ongoing.
Don’t forget to share this blog with friends and family and book an appointment today with your local Optometrist?
The Envision Optical Difference
The team at Envision Optical always perform a thorough examination of the optic nerve and checks your intraocular pressure at every full examination.
Not all eye tests are the same so make sure you ask to be checked for Glaucoma at your next appointment.
When was the last time you had your eyes checked? Book a test today at one of our 4 convenient Optometrist locations on the Gold Coast.
Every Thursday, our Envision Optical blog brings you ‘Nutrition Thursday’ – news about nutrition for your eye health. Keep an eye on our Facebook page and like us to receive the reminders once they are posted. Each week we also include a delicious recipe for you to make: www.facebook.com/envisionoptical