World Glaucoma Week, 8th to 14th March 2015.
March kicks off with World Glaucoma Week. West Ryde optometrist Tom Geroulas reminds everyone that they should protect their vision with a comprehensive eye check. Glaucoma Week alerts us to this ‘invisible’ eye disease. It is a major cause of sight loss in Australia, and the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. About 300,000 Australians have Glaucoma but, because there are generally no noticeable symptoms, only about 50% of people know that they have the disease. It can occur at any age, but generally it is more common in people over 40. With our ageing population, the number of cases is increasing.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve, at the back of the eye, is slowly and permanently destroyed. In many cases this damage is related to increased pressure inside the eye. Sometimes the damage may be caused by poor blood circulation to the vital optic nerve fibres, or a weakness in the integrity of the nerve fibres themselves. Often there are no warning signs, and in the early stages the person is unaware of the disease until permanent damage occurs.
Although anyone can get Glaucoma, some people are at higher risk, such as those with a history of diabetes, blood pressure, migraine, short sightedness (myopia) People with a family history of glaucoma are up to 10 times more at risk. Eye injuries and past or present use of cortisone medications (steroids) may also increase the risk of Glaucoma.
Regular eye examinations are the best way to detect Glaucoma. Early detection is vital. Testing for Glaucoma usually includes thorough examination of the optic nerves by ophthalmoscopy, an eye pressure check (tonometry), and a visual field assessment if disease is suspected.
There is no cure for Glaucoma, and vision loss is irreversible, however in most cases it can be controlled and further loss of sight either prevented or at least minimised. Treatment often requires eyedrops, but sometimes surgery is needed.
For further information, contact Tom Geroulas optometrist, located at 1093 Victoria Rd, West Ryde, Phone 9804 6896.