Although we don’t know everything about what causes glaucoma, we do know that if the eye pressure in the eyes is too high it can cause the optic nerve on the back of the eye to slowly stop working, eventually leading to vision loss and blindness.

A common misconception is that people think they would be able to tell if they have glaucoma, but in fact, someone with glaucoma usually does not know it until there is severe sight loss.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases where vision is lost due to damage to the optic nerve. The damage to the optic nerve causes a gradual loss of sight, especially in the loss of peripheral vision. Generally, as there are no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages of glaucoma, there can be significant loss of vision before there is an awareness of any problem, so the best way to ensure someone does not have glaucoma is from a comprehensive eye test that checks for glaucoma. 

What happens to cause glaucoma?

The main problem in glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve. Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the fluid pressure inside the eye. The level of eye pressure at which there is damage to an optic nerve varies between people: some individuals with high eye pressures do not develop nerve damage, while others with normal eye pressure develop progressive nerve damage. 

Glaucoma cannot be self-detected, and many people affected by glaucoma may not be aware of any vision loss. It is important to remember that while it is more common as we get older, glaucoma can occur at any age. As vision cannot be regained, treatment around glaucoma is aimed at lowering the pressure inside the eyes so early detection is critically important. Early detection through regular eye testing and adhering to treatment has a huge impact on preventing or slowing down the loss of vision caused by glaucoma. 

We know a lot about what increases the risk for someone to develop glaucoma, including having a history of family members with glaucoma. There are also many health conditions that glaucoma can be associated with that are easily overlooked.

In some forms of glaucoma with symptoms, these symptoms may include:

  • Eye pain
  • Seeing haloes around lights
  • Experiencing a headache, blurry vision and/or nauseousness
  • A fixed, mid-dilated pupil
  • Slowly losing peripheral vision
  • Suspecting difficulties with your peripheral vision in getting around and mobility

Some important facts:

  • 2 in 100 Australians will develop Glaucoma in their lifetime and loss of vision from glaucoma can be prevented
  • 1 in 8 Australians aged over 80 years will develop glaucoma
  • Do you have someone in the family with glaucoma? First degree relatives of people with glaucoma have an up to 10-times increased risk of developing glaucoma
  • Currently, about 50% of people with glaucoma in Australia do not know they have the conditions 

The best way to detect glaucoma is with a comprehensive eye exam. Book an eye test with your local G&M optometrist to check for glaucoma today.

For more information and support on Glaucoma contact Glaucoma Australia.

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