Don’t be blindsided by glaucoma

Next week is a timely reminder for Aussies to take a closer look at their eye health, with optometrists and Glaucoma Australia urging people to get their eyes checked on a regular basis.

Australian rock star, Kirk Pengilly from iconic band INXS, will front Glaucoma Australia’s new risk awareness campaign, “Don’t be blindsided”, in support of World Glaucoma Week which runs from 8-14 March.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, affecting 300,000 Australians, however due to glaucoma having little to no symptoms, half are not aware that they have the disease.

Luke Arundel, Chief Clinical Officer for Optometry Australia says that glaucoma is often nicknamed the ‘silent thief of sight’ because peripheral vision loss occurs at such a gradual pace, it often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

“Glaucoma cannot be self-detected. In most cases there are no symptoms or early warning signs to let you know there is something wrong with your eyes. The only way to check if you have glaucoma is to have an eye exam including an optic nerve check which is simple and completely pain-free.”

Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index Report highlights that while the majority of Australians understand the benefits of a regular eye examination, an alarming one in eight Aussies have never seen an optometrist in their life.

“Unfortunately many of us only visit an optometrist as we get older and can’t see as clearly as we used to, which means glaucoma can go unnoticed until significant damage to the optic nerve has already occurred,” said Annie Gibbins, Glaucoma Australia CEO.

“We encourage Australians over 50 to have a comprehensive eye exam every 2 years, and if you have a family history of glaucoma you should get checked from the age of 40,” she added.

One in 10,000 babies are born with glaucoma and about 1 in 200 people will have glaucoma by age 40. By age 80, 1 in 8 people will have the disease.

Optometry Australia’s CEO Lyn Brodie said that 2020 has been mandated the year of good vision for life. ‘With 20/20 being a well-known term often attributed to perfect vision, and good vision being a key factor for living a healthy, happy life, we encourage all Australians to have a comprehensive eye examination this year and then to make this a regular part of your health regime’.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

You are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma if you:

  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have high eye pressure
  • Are aged over 50
  • Are of African or Asian descent
  • Have diabetes
  • Are short or long sighted
  • Have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
  • Experience migraines
  • Have had an eye operation or eye injury
  • Have a history of high or low blood pressure

 To find an optometrist and make an appointment for an eye examination near you click here.

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