Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a common eye disorder affecting visual function through damage to the optic nerve. It is commonly age-related, with incidence increasing after the age of 40 years. The condition affects one in 15 people over the age of 70. While rare in those under  the age of 50, glaucoma can also occur in infancy and in the juvenile years.

Glaucoma is an eye disease that slowly damages the fine nerves connecting the eye to the brain. The damage generally occurs when pressure within the eye rises. If untreated, it causes a loss of peripheral vision, which can result in tunnel vision and even total blindness.

Early diagnosis of glaucoma is vital, particularly because people may have few or no symptoms in the early stages. In fact, one in two Australians with glaucoma may be undiagnosed. At present, raised intraocular pressure and family history of the disease are two important risk factors for developing glaucoma.

Once vision has been lost, it cannot be restored. Prevention of vision loss is therefore an important factor in reducing the impact of glaucoma. The mainstay of treatment is daily use of eye drops to reduce intraocular pressure and slow or halt death of neural tissue in the optic nerve.

Functional implications of glaucoma include:

  • Having difficulty adjusting to lighting changes (e.g. between indoors and outdoors)
  • Experiencing occasional blurred vision
  • Seeing a halo around lights
  • Being particularly sensitive to glare and light
  • Having difficulty identifying the edge of steps
  • Being unable to differentiate between the footpath and road
  • Tripping over or bumping into objects.

For further information, visit Glaucoma Australia.

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