This week has been #GlaucomaAwarenessWeek which runs annually from June 12th-18th. Known as the silent thief of vision, Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness - in many cases, up to 40% of sight is permanently lost before the symptoms are spotted.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the main nerve to the eye, the optic nerve, is damaged. It usually occurs when the fluid in the eye cannot drain properly which increases the pressure to this nerve which is essential to your vision. The optic nerve carries the information of what you see to your brain, but, as this becomes damaged, leads to a loss of sight.
The symptoms are extremely hard to spot and it is often too late for your vision when they are found. It is important that if you experience any of the following you see an optometrist as soon as possible:
- Recurrent headaches (especially around and behind your eyes)
- Appearance of rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights
- Loss of peripheral (side vision appears black)
What is the aim of #GlaucomaAwarenessWeek?
One of the main focuses of #GlaucomaAwarenessWeek is to remind people that routine eye tests are important to diagnose sight-threatening diseases. Eye tests are recommended every 2 years, and this should become more frequent as you get older as eyesight commonly deteriorates and you will be more prone to eye diseases. Regular eye checks and tests are important in the detection of eye disease; especially Glaucoma where the disease can have no symptoms.
A comprehensive eye test is the only way to diagnose Glaucoma.
Another focus of #GlaucomaAwarenessWeek is the importance of eye pressure. During a comprehensive eye test, eye pressure is checked too. A high pressure in your eye can cause Glaucoma, but many people are unaware of the significance of getting the pressure checked here as you would with your blood pressure. There are no other early symptoms of Glaucoma which makes the eye pressure test an extremely important practice.
Early treatment can include eye drops to relieve the pressure on the optic nerve with other treatments including Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) to reduce the production of the pressure inducing fluid in the eye, and surgery to improve the drainage of fluid from your eyes. It’s best to spot Glaucoma early so it can be diagnosed and treated.