Glaucoma. Could you be one of the undiagnosed cases?

In the lead up to World Glaucoma Week (10 – 16 March) Glaucoma Australia will launch a new risk awareness campaign targeting people who are at greater risk of developing glaucoma to encourage them to get their eyes tested.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable blindness in Australia, affecting over 300,000 Australians, yet it is estimated that 50% of those living with glaucoma are undiagnosed.

While nine out of 10 Australians say that sight is their most valued sense, over 8 million Australians are still not having regular eye tests.

Glaucoma Australia CEO Annie Gibbins said “We want to dispel the myth that glaucoma only affects the elderly, which is why we are launching this new risk awareness campaign during World Glaucoma Week. We want to encourage anyone at risk of developing glaucoma to get their eyes tested, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma as you are 10 times more likely to develop glaucoma if you have a direct relative with it.”

If you have a family history of glaucoma, are of Asian or African descent or are over 50, you have a higher risk of developing glaucoma. Other risk factors include diabetes, myopia (nearsightedness), prolonged cortisone (steroid) use, migraines, a previous eye injury or eye operation and a history of high or low blood pressure.

Glaucoma Australia recommends all Australians 50 years or older visit an optometrist every 2 years for a comprehensive eye exam, and if you have a family history of glaucoma or are of Asian or African descent they recommend you get your eyes checked every 2 years from the age of 40.” Ms Gibbins added.

“Glaucoma is often nicknamed the ‘silent thief of sight’ because people almost never see it coming. There are no early symptoms for the most common form of glaucoma and before you notice anything unusual with your sight significant vision may have already been lost forever” said Glaucoma Australia Optometry Committee Chair, Dr Ben Ashby.

"We want to save people's sight. A standard eye test with your local optometrist can detect glaucoma before you even know there might be a problem. Ensuring you and your family are checked at least every 2 years is the first step towards eliminating glaucoma blindness in Australia" he said.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Although anyone may 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 descent
  • have diabetes
  • have myopia (nearsighted)
  • have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
  • experience migraines
  • have had an eye operation or eye injury
  • have a history or high or low blood pressure

Glaucoma Australia Patient Symposium - 27th March 2019

Glaucoma Australia will host a patient symposium and free glaucoma risk screening clinic at the 8th World Glaucoma Congress in Melbourne. The World Glaucoma Congress is the premier international glaucoma meeting, bringing together experts in glaucoma research and clinical practice from around the world.

This year will be the first time the World Glaucoma Congress will be held in Australia, held on Wednesday 27 March 2019 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC).

If you are in Melbourne and you have glaucoma we encourage you to attend this invaluable event.

Prior to the commencement of the patient symposium Glaucoma Australia will be hosting a free glaucoma risk screening clinic for family members to promote the importance of a regular eye exam. Considering you are up to 10x more likely to have glaucoma if you have a direct family member with glaucoma a visit to the optometrist every 2 years is the best opportunity to detect glaucoma in its early stages before significant damage occurs.

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