Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases where vision is lost due to damage to the optic nerve. More than 300,000 Australians are thought to have glaucoma, but only 50 per cent have been diagnosed. Generally there are no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages of this eye condition. The loss of sight is usually gradual and a considerable amount of peripheral (side) vision may be lost before there is an awareness of any problem.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.
Although anyone can develop glaucoma, some people have a higher risk - they are people who:
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Have high eye pressure
- Are aged over 50
- Are of African or Asian descended ethnicity
- Have diabetes
- Are short or long sighted
- Have a previous history of eye injury
- Have a past or present prolonged use of cortisone drugs (steroids)
- Get migraines
- Have high or low blood pressure
Most people are recommended to have a comprehensive eye examination for glaucoma every two years from age 50 or when advised by your eye health professional.
For those of African or Asian descent, or for those who have a family history of glaucoma, it is recommended that you have a glaucoma test from age 40. If your family member has advanced glaucoma, it is recommended that you have a glaucoma test from age 35 as you have a significantly increased risk.
The only way to know if you have glaucoma is to visit an optometrist for a simple eye exam - it's quick and easy and it just might save your eye sight.
Glaucoma Australia has developed a risk calcultor to help you assess your potential risk of developing glaucoma based on age, gender, ethnicity, family history of glaucoma and other health issues such as diabetes and myopia. Calculate your risk of developing glaucoma here. This calculator is also easy to share on social media so if you think your friends or family might be at risk please share it with them.
To find an optometrist near you, click here.