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What You Need to Know About Glaucoma

Did you know that glaucoma is the number one cause of vision loss and blindness? Approximately 300,000 Australians have glaucoma and 50% of people with glaucoma in Australia are undiagnosed1. It is a scary disease that affects the nerves in the eye, and once the damage is done it cannot be reversed.

2-3% of the total population in Australia will develop glaucoma1, but many people skip the one thing that could prevent blindness or vision loss, a regular eye exam. For the most part, glaucoma is undetectable to the normal person, so making an effort to visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist can help with early detection.

Below are some common questions related to glaucoma:

What are the main types of glaucoma?

  • Open-Angle Glaucoma
    • Imbalance in the production and drainage of the clear fluid that fills the eye’s anterior chamber
    • The fluid imbalance leads to pressure inside the eye that pushes against the optic nerve, depriving optic nerve oxygen and nutrients eventually causing irreversible damage
    • Diagnosed 90% of the time
  • Angle-Closure Glaucoma
    • Caused by a blocked drainage canal, resulting in a sudden rise in intraocular pressure
    • Develops very quickly
    • Typically, much more noticeable
    • Less common

Can glaucoma be prevented?

  • Open-Angle Glaucoma – cannot be prevented
  • Glaucoma that causes optic-nerve damage and visual loss – can be prevented by early diagnosis, effective treatment, and a strict compliance regimen

Can glaucoma be treated?

  • Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled, potentially slowing down vision loss

What are the risks and warning signs?

  • Risks:
    • Ethnicity
    • Diabetes
    • Previous Eye Injuries
    • Steroid use
    • History of severe anemia
    • Age
  • Warning Signs:
    • Red-rimmed, swollen or crusty eyelids
    • Dry eyes with itching or burning
    • Double vision
    • Recurrent pain in or around the eyes
    • Light sensitivity
    • Change in iris color
    • Watery eyes

World Glaucoma Week is held in March each year. The goal is to raise awareness and help people learn about the severity of glaucoma, and more importantly the need for proper preventative vision care. Keep the awareness going and please share this information with your family and friends, or visit: www.glaucoma.org.au for additional information.

1 Glaucoma Australia, Facts & FAQs, https://www.glaucoma.org.au/about-glaucoma/facts-and-faqs/, Accessed 2 January 2018