When A Family Member Has Glaucoma 26 Jan, 2015
As primary eye care providers, we often get asked what you should do when someone close to you has glaucoma. We often answer by saying, “You’re having an eye test. That’s the first thing you need to do!”
For starters, you need to know what glaucoma is. If you have no idea about this condition, you are not alone as about 30% of people have never heard of it*.
Glaucoma refers to a group of conditions that lead to damage of the optic nerve, the cable that transmits vision from your eye to your brain. In most cases, the fluid which circulates within the eye does not drain out properly, increasing one’s eye pressure and causing damage to the optic nerve. Unfortunately, since glaucoma develops very slowly initially , there are usually no symptoms. For this reason, glaucoma can “steal” your sight very gradually without you even being aware that there is a problem. This is why it is so important to have regular eye examinations at least every two years even if you feel your eyes are fine. This is even more important if you have a family history of glaucoma.
Early detection makes treatment far easier and more effective. Make sure that anyone you care about, or care for, are up to date with their eye tests.
- Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness world wide.
- 1 in 10 Australians over 80 will develop glaucoma.
- First degree relatives of glaucoma patients have an 8-fold increased risk of developing the disease.
- At present, 50% of people with glaucoma in Australia are undiagnosed.
*Source: Tunnel Vision. The economic impact of Open Angle Glaucoma, Centre for Eye Research Australia, 2008
By Natalie Rokic, Natalie Rokic EyeQ Optometrists