The term “silent thief of sight” has been given to glaucoma as the disease is asymptomatic in the early stages of the disease. Most importantly there is hardly any symptoms until a significant vision loss occurs. People from any age can be diagnosed with glaucoma which is why raising awareness of the disease through #WorldGlaucomaWeek is so important.
Symptoms will depend on the type of glaucoma:
- Open-angle Glaucoma
The most common type of glaucoma mostly affects people over the age of 50. However, there are no obvious symptoms, which means people do not notice any change in their vision until it’s far along. World Glaucoma Week is crucial in aiding prevention as catching glaucoma early and slowing its progress is the best way to avoid permanent damage. Getting eye exams every 1-2 years starting at age 40 is recommended.
- Angle-closure Glaucoma
There are several factors leading to the obstruction in acute angle-closure glaucoma, with the the most common one being the structural anatomy of the anterior chamber. This leads to a shallower angle between the iris and the cornea. Early symptoms are known as blurred vision, halos, headaches, eye pain or nausea.
- Normal-tension Glaucoma
This type of glaucoma has the same criteria to primary open-angle glaucoma but with important clinical distinction. It is important to investigate an individuals personal health history as past health issues can be the root cause of normal tension glaucoma such health issues that are worth considering include: traumatic injuries, inflammation, severe blood-loss or hypotensive events. Patients with NTG will have symptoms such as blind spots in their field vision and optic nerve damage.
- Primary congenital Glaucoma
Primary congenital glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that affects one in every 10,000 infants If untreated, it can be a major cause of childhood blindness. The disease is normally diagnosed between the ages of 3-6 months, however if founded early, 80% to 90% of children will respond well to treatment and won’t have any vision problems in the future.
In 2020, in the UK, over half a million people were diagnosed with glaucoma. Most people affected by glaucoma are mainly middle-aged and older people, but it can also affect people from any age. Vision loss glaucoma impacts the independence of many people who are part of this aging population.
It is important to say that there is improvement in the understanding of the causes which lead the development of more targeted and personalised treatments. Generic testing is important to note because it helps estimate individual risk for developing glaucoma over time.
People can lose as much as 40% of vision without noticing.
Peoples minds are unaware of what they are not seeing, which is why so many people with glaucoma lose their vision for years without realising it.
What can we do to prevent glaucoma?
- Sharing glaucoma awareness posts on social media
- Yearly eye and vision examination and encouraging others to do the same
- Getting involved through community group discussions and fundraisers
- Supporting organisations such as the Glaucoma Research Foundation (https://glaucoma.org/)or the World Glaucoma week (https://www.worldglaucomaweek.org/)
- Educating loved ones about the disease
- Visiting other great non-profit organisations that fund research and provide information about glaucoma