7 surprising things you probably didn’t know about glaucoma
Going blind is a frightening thought, yet many of us know very little about glaucoma.
Known as ‘the silent thief of sight’, the condition currently affects as many as 700,000 people across the UK, with some 50% of cases remaining undiagnosed.
Glaucoma is a pretty common eye condition – it’s thought that by 2035, one million people will suffer from it – and usually occurs when the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged as a result of fluid building up in the front area of the eye, which in turn increases pressure within the eyeball.
If left unchecked, it can cause irreversible damage to vision, so it’s important to diagnose and treat glaucoma early. The only way to do this is to go for frequent eye checks, otherwise you could be risking your sight without knowing it.
Almost 80% of people would choose sight as the sense they would least like to lose, yet many don’t visit the optician until something goes wrong with their eyes or sight.
To mark World Glaucoma Week (March 11–17), we spoke to Specsavers optometrist Dr Josie Forte, to learn more about the condition. Here, she shares seven little-known facts about glaucoma…
1. Glaucoma can be symptomless
People with 20/20 vision can have glaucoma and not realise it. You may not notice any difference in your vision, because it tends to affect your peripheral vision first – which you may not even be aware of. It’s only when it progresses to moderate or advanced glaucoma that people start to notice changes to their vision quality. “Regular eye tests are so important,” says Dr Forte, “as they potentially enable a diagnosis before any noticeable visual loss has occurred.”
2. Your family history could affect your risk of developing it
“Age, family history and even ethnicity all play a role,” explains Dr Forte. “If you’re over 40, have a family history of glaucoma, are short-sighted or diabetic, you have a higher risk of glaucoma and should mention this at your next sight test.”
3. People of African, Caribbean or Asian origin are at a higher risk
It’s often unclear why a build-up of pressure in the eye happens, but research has found that ethnicity can increase or decrease the risk, with glaucoma more common in people of African, Caribbean or Asian origin.
4. Eye tests for glaucoma are quick and painless
Glaucoma can usually be detected during a routine eye test, often before it causes any noticeable symptoms. The test does not hurt or feel uncomfortable, and should only take around 15 minutes. “Tests involve the optometrist looking at the appearance of the main nerve in the eye, a measurement of the pressure in the eye, and checking the field of vision,” says Dr Forte.
5. Glaucoma can affect anyone at any age
“It is not an age-related sight loss condition,” says Dr Forte. “Primary open angle glaucoma becomes more common as you get older, and although uncommon below the age of 40, it’s important to get checked for the early signs.”
6. Glaucoma can be managed
It’s not possible to reverse any loss of vision that occurred before glaucoma was diagnosed, but treatment can help to stop any further visual impairment. Regardless of whether somebody with glaucoma has noticed damage to their vision or not, the condition can often be managed with specific eye drops. “These are normally prescribed by an ophthalmologist at an eye hospital,” explains Dr Forte, “commonly after referral by an optometrist.”
7. The NHS funds sight tests for glaucoma at-risk groups
“If a close relative has glaucoma, you have a greater risk of developing it,” stresses Josie, “so your routine eye test may be funded by the NHS. If you think you might qualify, speak to your optician for more information.”
If you’re worried about glaucoma, advice is available on the high street. Specsavers optometrists and trained store team members can provide information about glaucoma and offer advice on how to use eye drops effectively.
Have you got a health question?
Silversurfers Health partner is AXA PPP Healthcare. The AXA PPP Healthcare's online service, "Ask the Expert", allows you to ask their team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives, counselors and pharmacists about any health topic.
Don't feel alone. You can ask anything about your health, any time for 24 hours a day; everyday. Please get in touch with us now.
ASK THE EXPERT
The Press Association
Latest posts by The Press Association (see all)
- What cooking ingredients can you actually scrimp on? - December 10, 2018
- Uterine cancer is on the rise – do you know the symptoms to look out for? - December 7, 2018
- Always look on the bright side of life: 50 years of Monty Python - December 5, 2018
- The Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Time to choose your favourite shots - December 5, 2018
- Sniffle season is upon us – how to stop other people from getting your cold - December 4, 2018
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!