A recent report from Glaucoma Australia has found that while nearly 300,000 Aussies live with glaucoma, a staggering number of those suffering from the condition live undiagnosed and at high risk of irreversible vision loss.
With only 50 per cent of sufferers even aware they have glaucoma – the name given to a group of eye diseases where loss of sight is due to damage to the optic nerve – the importance of scheduling regular eye examinations should not be overlooked.
“Silent thief of sight”
According to Glaucoma Australia, early detection and treatment of glaucoma is critical.
Not just because lost vision cannot be restored, but the projected financial impact of glaucoma on the national economy in the next few years is nothing short of alarming.
By 2025, and without an investment from the Federal Government to support those affected, it is forecast that Australia will face a $4.3 billion dollar economic hit linked to advanced glaucoma, which is largely attributed to the rapidly growing rate of our ageing population.
Glaucoma Australia believes that by investing in early intervention measures this will help balance the long-term financial burden that premature vision loss places on various health systems and schemes, including the NDIS.
Proactivity is paramount
Did you know eighty-five percent of vision loss is preventable or treatable if detected early?
And glaucoma is a great example of this.
However, the condition can slowly sneak up on you, with initial symptoms often going unnoticed or being overlooked, which was the case for television presenter David Koch.
This means that taking a proactive approach to your eye health is essential.
“Most people don’t know that glaucoma affects your peripheral vision first, before impacting central vision, and it may only occur in one eye initially, meaning you might not even notice your vision loss yourself until it’s too late. This is why it is so important to schedule a regular eye examination with an optometrist,” says Luke Arundel, Chief Clinical Officer at Optometry Australia.
“Early diagnosis is the best way to stop vision loss attributed to glaucoma. If the disease is caught before it causes damage to the optic nerve, the most common treatment approach is the straightforward, easy application of eye drops.”
To add an eye examination to your to do list, use our Find an Optometrist search tool to book in with your local optometrist today.
Five fast facts about glaucoma
- It is estimated that over 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, but 50% are undiagnosed.
- In many cases, glaucoma is an inherited disease that is passed on within families, and there is an increased risk with direct relatives (parents, siblings, children).
- People should start being checked for signs of glaucoma by the age of 35 years.
- Eye drops are the most common treatment for glaucoma if the condition is caught and diagnosed in its early stages.
- Glaucoma cannot be self-detected. It requires having a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist, which includes a simple and painless optic nerve check.