The 6th – 12th March is World Glaucoma Week, a global initiative that puts a spotlight on glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable irreversible blindness; however, prompt diagnosis and treatment can prevent the loss of vision.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, causing vision loss. There are 3 main types of glaucoma:
- Primary Glaucoma – primary open angle glaucoma or primary angle closure glaucoma
- Secondary Glaucoma – trauma related, pigmentary, neovascular, uveitic glaucoma
- Developmental Glaucoma – glaucoma in babies and children
In most cases, the condition is linked to high pressure within the eye. In the eye there is a healthy balance between the production and drainage of fluid, the pressure normally stays in a range that the eye can cope with. A certain level of pressure is required for the eye to keep its shape, however if the pressure gets too high due to the balance of drainage being disturbed, it can cause stress to the optic nerve leading to damage.
Anyone can develop glaucoma, however there are several risk factors that make developing glaucoma more likely.
- Age – Glaucoma is most common in those over 40
- Family History – If you have a blood relative who has glaucoma, you are 4 times more at risk of developing the condition.
- Blood pressure – high blood pressure can lead to an increase in pressure in the eyes.
- Ethnicity – People who are of African-Caribbean origin are more at risk of developing primary open angle glaucoma compared to those of European origin. People of east Asian origin are more at risk of developing primary angle closure glaucoma.
- Diabetes – People with diabetes may be at higher risk of developing glaucoma.
- Myopia – Those with myopia have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
In its earliest stages glaucoma may not present any symptoms. The condition usually affects the peripheral vision first which can often go unnoticed. The easiest and best way to know whether you are affected by glaucoma is with regular eye examinations. Using a visual fields test, and scanning the eye with the Optomap, and OCT our Optometrists will be able to assess your peripheral vision and the health of the optic nerve. Early detection is key to finding a suitable treatment and prolonging your vision.
If you have any concerns about your vision or the health of your eyes, contact us today for further information.