Glaucoma, a disease of the Optic Nerve, is one of the major causes of blindness in the developed world. Most people with the early stages of this disease are not aware that there is anything wrong, yet later in the disease process treatments tend not to be so effective. Dr Simon Little of North Lakes Optometry is encouraging people who have a family history of glaucoma to have their eyes examined regularly.
“If you have a family member who has glaucoma, there is about a four times greater likelihood of you developing the disease,” said Simon Little.
People with a family history of glaucoma need to have their eyes examined every two years unless otherwise specified by their optometrist; those at higher risk should have their eyes examined every year.
Glaucoma can be treated effectively, especially if it is detected early. Early detection increases treatment options, which can significantly slow or even halt the progression of the disease.
Simon also encourages people with glaucoma to play an active part in reminding their family members to book an eye examination.
“It is crucial for people with glaucoma to speak to their families about this silent and progressive eye condition so they understand the necessity of regular eye examinations“.
“Campaigns such as the annual Glaucoma Awareness Week provide a great opportunity to remind your relatives to book an appointment with an optometrist for an eye examination, but it is important not to forget about this sight threatening disease at other times. In my experience many people attend for an eye examination on or around their birthday as it helps them to make sure they have this vital health check.”
It is estimated that around 300,000 Australians have glaucoma and half are undiagnosed. The direct medical costs of glaucoma are around $150 million annually.
Glaucoma facts and tips
- Regular eye examinations are the key to diagnosis and more effective treatment for glaucoma.
- There is a significant increased risk of developing glaucoma if you have a family history of glaucoma, diabetes, migraine, short sightedness (myopia), eye injuries, blood pressure or past or present use of cortisone drugs (steroids).
- If you have a family member who has glaucoma, you have about a four times greater likelihood of developing the disease.
- While initially there are few if any symptoms from glaucoma, in some cases patients may note blurred vision, coloured rings around lights, loss of side vision and/or pain and redness of the eye.
- Glaucoma can be treated effectively, especially if detected early. Treatment options include eye drops, laser and surgery.
- If you have glaucoma, encourage your family to visit an optometrist to have their eyes examined regularly.