The Observatory

Glaucoma, the ‘thief of sight’ – World Glaucoma Week 2013

300,000 people in Australia have glaucoma; projections forecast this figure will rise to 400,000 by 2025.

Glaucoma Australia, in partnership with the World Glaucoma Patient Association, observes World Glaucoma Week each March (10 – 16 March this year) by encouraging the Australian community at higher risk of glaucoma to undertake a comprehensive eye examination and to make a habit of doing so at least every two years.

Anyone can get glaucoma whilst those with a high intraocular pressure, with a family history of the disease, who are of African or Asian descent and those over 50 years of age are at higher risk (NHMRC (2010) Guidelines- Glaucoma). Glaucoma is a major cause of vision loss in Australia and it is becoming more prevalent as our population ages.

eye exam

Photograph courtesy of Glaucoma Australia

About 300,000 people have primary open angle glaucoma, the most common form, and this number can be expected to grow to almost 400,000 by 2025 (CERA/Access Economics (2008) – Economic impact of Primary Open Angle Glaucoma). When the optic nerve is damaged for whatever reason, vision loss may result.

Glaucoma can be detected in its early stages through a comprehensive dilated eye examination before vision loss occurs. An intraocular pressure test alone is not enough to detect glaucoma.

People should not wait as there are usually no signs or symptoms of glaucoma in its early stages. I would recommend you visit your optometrist or your ophthalmologist during World Glaucoma Week for an eye exam to see if you could have early on-set glaucoma – one exam can save your sight.

Geoff Pollard