Glaucoma Awareness week begins on 28th June and although most people may have heard of the disease, many people will not realise that in most cases you won’t notice any problems with your eyes until it is at an extremely advanced stage. The earlier it is caught, the better the chance of preventing blindness in later life. This is one of the reasons it is so important to have regular eye tests even if you don’t wear glasses and think your vision is fine.
Between 2015 and 2035, the number of people living with glaucoma in the UK is expected to increase by 44%. With an ageing population and the number of people with diabetes increasing – (diabetics are twice as likely to develop glaucoma) and modern technology (including OCT scans, which we offer to all adult patients at Donner Optometrists) making earlier detection possible, more and more of us will find ourselves affected by glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a complicated disease. Put simply, it is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. Not everyone with glaucoma will have high eye pressures, which used to be considered the hallmark of the disease – it is now known that about a third of cases have low or normal eye pressures. Checking for glaucoma is not part of diabetic eye screening and so it is vital that diabetics don’t miss their 2 yearly check at the opticians as well as having their screening photos taken. If it’s not treated, glaucoma will lead to irreversible sight loss and even blindness. Being diagnosed with glaucoma might be unexpected and frightening but the Glaucoma UK website can give you all the support you need.
This year, Glaucoma UK are raising awareness of the family link with the disease. Did you know that someone has at least a four-times higher risk of developing glaucoma if they have a close blood relative who has it? So, if you have glaucoma, you should tell your relatives as they need to have their sight tested regularly. You may not have seen your relatives often in the past year, and due to the pandemic, appointments may have been canceled or postponed – so ask your relatives if they have had an eye test in the past 2 years. They might even be entitled to a free NHS-funded sight test. Opticians are open for appointments with the use of PPE and enhanced cleaning and hygiene meaning there is no reason to be afraid of having an eye test.
By encouraging your friends and family to have regular eye tests you might just help one of them with an earlier diagnosis which could help save their eyesight in the long run. You can even book an appointment online here.
If you are living with or have recently been diagnosed with glaucoma, or if you want to support a friend or family member who has glaucoma and you want advice or further information there are many resources available from Glaucoma UK, a registered charity. For more information on OCT scans, visit Donner Optometrists website here.