What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a complex group of diseases affecting the optic nerve. It is a degenerative disorder, and in its most severe form can cause tunnel vision or even blindness.

How common is glaucoma?

In Australia there are more than 300,000 people with glaucoma. It’s estimated 50% of cases are undiagnosed.

Signs and symptoms of glaucoma?

Glaucoma is often called the ‘thief of sight’. This is because in the early stages of the disease there are virtually no signs or symptoms, and significant damage to the optic nerve and vision can occur before signs or symptoms develop.

Some symptoms include:

• Blurred vision
• Seeing rainbows, or haloes around lights
• Vision loss

Glaucoma treatment

Eye drops, medication, laser surgery and other procedures can be used to lower the pressure inside the eye. This will help prevent further loss of vision, but it can’t repair damage to the optic nerve.

While any loss of eyesight is irreversible, early detection and treatment can slow the progression of the disease.

Regular eye tests with an optometrist is the best way to protect your vision to ensure glaucoma is detected and treated early.

Who is at risk of glaucoma?

Anybody can have glaucoma, no matter if you are young, old or in between. The risk of glaucoma increases with age. If you have a direct family member with glaucoma you are up to 10 times more likely to have the disease at some time in your life.

Risk factors include:

• age
• a family history
• diabetes
• migraine
• short-sightedness (myopia)
• a history of eye injuries
• elevated blood pressure
• use of steroid drugs
• ethnicity (Asian or African background are at increased risk)

We are here to help, ask your optometrist if you have any questions about glaucoma or book an eye test today.