Glaucoma Awareness Month

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January is national glaucoma awareness month – an important time to raise awareness of one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that sixty million people worldwide have glaucoma, although almost half of them do not realise they have it.

Glaucoma is called “the sneak thief of sight” since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it is permanent. As much as forty per cent of vision can be lost without a person noticing, hence the importance of regular eye examinations to preserve vision.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma describes a group of eye conditions that often affects both eyes when the drainage area of the eyes become slightly blocked preventing the eye fluid from draining, thus causing intraocular pressure (IOP) to increase above the normal range. This pressure can then damage the optic nerve, which carries over 1 million nerves from the eye to the brain, resulting in irreversible vision loss.

Symptoms

There can be no visible symptoms in adults until sight has deteriorated significantly, reinforcing the importance of regular eye tests to detect this serious condition. However, in some cases symptoms can vary from intense pain, redness of the eye, headache, tender eye area, seeing rings around lights and misty vision to quick loss of vision. These symptoms may not be constant, so if you are unsure, make an appointment to see your eye doctor or optometrist as soon as possible.

There are several types of glaucoma:

Chronic open-angle glaucoma – the most common type of glaucoma which develops very slowly.

Primary angle-closure glaucoma the rare form of glaucoma which can occur slowly (chronic) or may develop rapidly (acute) with a sudden, painful build-up of pressure in the eye.

Secondary glaucoma – this occurs as a result of an eye injury or another eye condition.

Developmental glaucoma (congenital glaucoma) – a rare but serious form of glaucoma which is usually present at birth or develops shortly after birth. It is caused by an abnormality of the eye.

Risk Factors – Are You At Risk of Glaucoma?

Age people aged sixty years and over are more at risk of glaucoma than younger age groups.

Ethnic origin – people of African or Afro-Caribbean origin are at increased risk of developing the condition. People of Asian origin are also at increased risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma.

short sightedness – people who are short-sighted are more likely to develop chronic open-angle glaucoma.

Ocular hypertension (OHT or raised pressure in the eye) – people with OHT are at increased risk of developing chronic open-angle glaucoma.

Family history – if glaucoma is present within your immediate family you are of greater risk of developing the condition.

Diabetes – people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

Diagnosis

As glaucoma develops slowly, it is important to have regular eye examinations where your optometrist can carry out several different tests for the condition, such as:

Eye Pressure Test

Central Corneal Thickness Test

Gonioscopy

Visual Field Test

Optic Nerve Assessment

If glaucoma is suspected, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist where further tests will be carried out to confirm diagnosis and advise on treatment.

Treatment

There is no cure for glaucoma to date; however glaucoma treatments generally work by lowering the pressure inside the eye so that no further damage to the optic nerve occurs. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Treatment options to help reduce intraocular pressure within the eye include:

Eye Drops

Laser Treatment

Surgery

It is important to remember that while there are many effective treatments available, you must take your treatment as advised and have regular check-ups.

Most eyes conditions are preventable and this is the reason campaigns like Glaucoma awareness month are so important. The vast majority of people around the world will visit the dentist regularly to maintain their teeth, will visit their doctor for their health but there aren’t enough people who regularly have their eyes checked yet most studies have shown that people value their sight and are scared of losing it.

If you would like more information and advice please get in touch with your local eye healthcare provider, ASB or your nearest lighthouse for support.

Don’t take your sight for granted.

Don’t take your sight for granted

the things that you can see

Life’s beautiful feel in memory seal

consume them carefully

The smiles of those who love you

that look within their eyes

Each frame hold on

for soon may come

the day it shrinks in size

For I know how important

this little left I’ve got

I’m thankful for the sight I have

won’t dwell on what I’ve not

Tomorrow’s sight uncertain

No promise of our cure

So I will love and cherish these gifts today for sure

I’m hooked on visions beauty

I’m lucky for it’s grace

I soak in every detail upon my true loves face

For soon that blurred tomorrow will finally be here

So I won’t blink whilst on the brink

This blindness I won’t fear

Although sometimes I worry

for days when sight has gone

I know that when that time arrives this life will carry on

I’m an expert at adjusting

Been doing it for years

I’ve learned to breathe whist I still greave

I’ve learned to own my fears

I’m stronger than I thought

I’m braver than you think

For I have saved my life before when stood there on the brink

I wonder though sometimes

if my heart is growing numb

These days I don’t feel half as much for what is still to come

It flows like waves in ocean

Like sudden change in tide

I sit here writing words for you

whilst from outside I hide

But I have made a promise

that I won’t stay here long

For even in the darkest times I know that I am strong

My battles with depression

These anxious feelings shake

I try to find new ways to win

from the moment I awake

But you won’t see me failing

Just try and try again

For through these words my thoughts are heard

by hand of Poets pen

#TheBlindPoet