Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye – a result of blockage of the circulation of aqueous, the liquid which provides drainage. In other patients, the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibres themselves.
Over 300 000 Australians have glaucoma. While it does become more common as people age, it can occur at any age. With the ageing population in Australia, the proportion of glaucoma patients we see at our Brisbane optometry clinic is increasing. Damage progresses very slowly and destroys vision gradually, starting with the side vision.
Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people have a higher risk, such as those with:
People in these groups should have their first eye examination to check for glaucoma no later than the age of 30.
For most people, it is recommended to have an optometrist check for glaucoma by the age of 35.
Regular eye examinations by an optometrist are the best way to detect glaucoma early. A glaucoma test usually includes the following:
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, it can usually be controlled with eye drops to prevent further loss of sight. A referral to an Ophthalmologist from your Optometrist and regular health checks are imperative for the prevention and management of this condition, to help protect your sight.
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