This week is world glaucoma week (10-16 March). Did you know that glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable blindness in the world? There are over 300,000 Australians living with undiagnosed glaucoma. It is a serious condition when undetected as it damages the optic nerve. The damage is irreversible. It is very easy to find out if you have glaucoma. All it takes is a visit to the optometrist.
People with family history of glaucoma, and those from an African or Asian descent have a higher risk of developing glaucoma. Anyone with a history of glaucoma in the family and over 40 years should have their eyes checked every 2 years. Everyone over 50 years old should have a comprehensive eye examination every 2 years.
My maternal great-grandmother had glaucoma. Back in her days there was not the awareness or treatment options. However, she managed with poor vision until she passed away when 98 years old. My mother and I have the condition. With an early diagnosis, treatment and regular follow-up with an ophthalmologist, glaucoma can be managed without loss of vision.
It is estimated that there are around 60 million cases of glaucoma across the world. Have you ever wondered why the singer/songwriter Bono wears sunglasses? Maybe to look cool? No, he has glaucoma. The condition can make eyes sensitive to light. I have written before about Andrea Bocelli. He was born with congenital glaucoma. After a soccer accident at the age of 12 years he had a brain haemorrhage and went totally blind. Astronaut John Glenn may not have been the first American to obit the earth without an earlier diagnosis of glaucoma. It saved his vision and allowed him to see sights most of us will never see. He passed away at 95 years old in 2016.
Glaucoma is often called ‘the silent thief of sight’. There are no early symptoms and once sight is lost it, it is lost forever. Don’t delay make an appointment with an optometrist today!
Find more about glaucoma here.