It is World Glaucoma Week (WGW), 6-12 March 2016.
The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of glaucoma, what it does to sight, and how it might affect you.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage of the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain. If left untreated, most types of glaucoma progress (without warning nor obvious symptoms to the patient) towards gradually worsening visual damage and may lead to blindness. Once incurred, visual damage is mostly irreversible, and this has led to glaucoma being described as the “silent blinding disease” or the “sneak thief of sight”.
Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide, and the leading cause of irreversible blindness, yet 90% could have been prevented. It is estimated that 4.5 million persons globally are blind due to glaucoma. There is no cure for glaucoma as yet, and vision loss is irreversible. However medication or surgery can halt or slow-down any further vision loss. Therefore early detection is essential to limiting visual impairment and preventing the progression towards blindness.
Your eye-care professional can detect glaucoma in its early stages and advise you on the best course of action.
What can you do to prevent Glaucoma?
Regular eye exams are the best form of prevention against significant glaucoma damage. Early detection and careful, lifelong treatment can maintain vision in most people.
In general, a check for glaucoma should be done:
• before age 40, every two to four years
• from age 40 to age 54, every one to three years
• from age 55 to 64, every one to two years
• after age 65, every six to 12 months
Anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after the age of 35.