Glaucoma is known as the Thief of sight
This year’s National Glaucoma Awareness Week will take place on the 8 – 14 June 2015.
The purpose of the week is to encourage people to have regular eye health checks to ensure that they are safe. It is only with regular eye health checks through a local optometrist that people will know if they have been affected as there is no pain involved in the most common form of the disease.
It is estimated that 67 million individuals worldwide have glaucoma more than 50% of individuals with glaucoma are undiagnosed!
This means that out of the estimated 500,000 individuals in the UK that are affected, half are unaware of it.
Glaucoma is a complex set of conditions or disease but the most common type is Primary open angle Glaucoma with thinning of the nerve fibre layer leading to loss of peripheral vision in the early days, and potentially leading to tunnel vision.
Whilst Glaucoma may not actually be caused by a build up of pressure in the eye, it is the only modifiable factor and one of the reason the pressure or “Puff” test is important.
However, the pressure test is only part of the story; imagine asking your garage to check your tyres and the tyre pressure was checked but the tread wasn’t examined and there is in fact a bald patch or worse.
It is therefore important to examine the Optic Nerve as well.
Digital photographs are very helpful in viewing and comparing photos over time which might show up subtle changes. However, there are even better methods worth looking out for, which can do an in depth 3D examination layer by layer of the retina, and even give predictions on the likelihood of contracting the disease.
Not everyone is at risk of Glaucoma but there are certain risk factors and these include:
• People over the age of 40
• People of African or Caribbean origin
• Anyone with high eye pressure
• Anyone with a family history of glaucoma
• Long-term steroid users
• Anyone who is very short sighted
The increased risk caused by family history is only 25% which doesn’t automatically mean that Glaucoma is certain but it is sensible to be checked and in fact anyone over the age of forty is entitled to a free NHS sight test with a family history.
However, as mentioned earlier half of the sufferers are unaware that they are affected so checkups are still sensible and are universally free to anyone over 60.
The bottom line is, if you don’t know for certain your eyes are perfect, have a sight test at least every two years!
The first picture shows a normal scan, whilst the second a Glaucomatous Scan… Book you test today!