WORLD Glaucoma Week runs from March 10th-16th, and to mark it, the Royal National Institute of Blind People have released facts and stats about the eye condition.
Glaucoma is one of the four main eye conditions in the UK, affecting around 600,000 people.
Glaucoma is loss of vision that is caused by damage to the optic nerve because of high pressure inside the eye.
There are several types of glaucoma, but they all result in loss of vision and, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Up to 145,000 people in the UK are living with sight loss due to glaucoma.
Most forms of glaucoma have no symptoms in the early stages, but regular eye examinations can help detect the condition early and prevent sight loss.
People should make sure they have their sight tested every two years. Those who belong to a high-risk group, such as people of African or Asian descent, or those with diabetes, very high blood pressure or short-sightedness, may need to get their sight tested even more regularly.
Almost 14 million Brits don’t have regular eye tests, despite them being essential health checks.
Treatment for glaucoma is usually with eye drops to control the pressure in the eye. It is important that there is no break in treatment, as this will cause sight loss.
There are also some surgical treatments available if drops are not sufficient.
Famous people living with glaucoma include U2 frontman, Bono, actress and comedienne, Whoopi Goldberg, and opera singer, Andrea Bocelli.
Louise Gow, Specialist Lead for Eye Health at RNIB, says: “It is crucial that people have regular eye examinations to ensure that conditions, like glaucoma, are not robbing them of their sight. An optometrist can detect eye health problems or other medical issues at an early stage, before any symptoms are noticed.
“A routine eye test only takes around 30 minutes and for millions of us it’s absolutely free – paid for either by the NHS or an employer. Anyone who hasn’t had their eyes tested for longer than two years should urgently an appointment to avoid potentially irreversible sight loss.”
Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk