Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable blindness in Australia, affecting over 300,000 people. However, 50 percent of Australians living with the disease remain undiagnosed. While 9 out of 10 Australians regard sight as their most valued sense, over 8 million Australians still do not have regular eye tests.
WHAT IS GLAUCOMA?
Glaucoma is usually caused by an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) which can cause optic nerve damage. The level of elevated eye pressure which causes progressive damage to the optic nerve varies between people.
The eye is constantly producing a clear liquid which nourishes the eye and holds the eye in shape. It is then drained out through an area called the anterior chamber angle or drainage angle. If there is damage to the drainage angle, it can cause high IOP in the eye.
This increased pressure begins to damage the optic nerve which lies at the back of the eye. Damage to the cells of the optic nerve results in irreversible damage to your eyesight.
TYPES OF GLAUCOMA
There are two types of glaucoma. One form is the Open-Angle and this is the most common type of the disease. The drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris remains open, but the trabecular meshwork is partially blocked. This causes pressure in the eyes to gradually increase.
One severe type of glaucoma is Acute Angle-Closure, which can cause severe eye pain. The following symptoms include: nausea and vomiting, headaches, watery eyes, sudden onset of blurred vision or seeing halos around lights. This is a medical emergency and immediate treatment is required.
ARE YOU AT RISK?
Everyone over the age of 50 should visit an optometrist every year for a comprehensive eye exam. The risk of is higher if you have a family history of glaucoma, of Asian or African descent, or suffer from any of the above risk factors, you should have your eyes checked annually from the age of 40.
Glaucoma has been nicknamed ‘the silent thief of sight’, because there are often no early signs or symptoms. In reality, before you notice anything unusual with your sight, vision may have already been permanently lost.
Your optometrist may also recommend some prescription eye drops to assist with eye discomfort and will be required after you have been diagnosed with the disease. It is important to protect your eyes and if you have any of the symptoms mentioned in this post it is suggested to book an appointment to avoid permanent vision loss.
WHAT IS USUALLY THE FIRST SIGN OF GLAUCOMA?
Loss of peripheral or side vision: This is usually the first sign of glaucoma. Seeing halos around lights: If you see rainbow-colored circles around lights or are unusually sensitive to light, it could be a sign of glaucoma. Vision loss: Especially if it happens suddenly.
CAN GLAUCOMA BE STOPPED?
Timely Diagnosis and Appropriate Treatment are Key to Glaucoma Prevention. While there are no known ways of preventing glaucoma, blindness or significant vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented if the disease is recognized in the early stages.
WHAT CAUSES GLAUCOMA?
Glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve. As this nerve gradually deteriorates, blind spots develop in your visual field. For reasons that doctors don't fully understand, this nerve damage is usually related to increased pressure in the eye