Next week is World Glaucoma Week
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The 6th World Glaucoma Week is due to take place on 9 to 15 March 2014 in order to raise global awareness of this condition.
The B-I-G; 'Beat Invisible Glaucoma' campaign will be launched jointly by The World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) in response to the finding that too many people across the world are unaware that they have the disease and are receiving no treatment.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage to the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain. If left untreated, most types of glaucoma progress, often without warning or symptoms, towards gradually worsening visual damage and possible blindness. This visual damage is usually irreversible.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness internationally but staggeringly, 90% could be prevented.
It is estimated that 9 million people worldwide are blind due to this disease and, as the population ages, this number is set to rise. There are a number of risk factors for the development of glaucoma including ethnicity, family history, high levels of short sightedness and age, although in many cases the cause is unknown. In addition, high pressure within the eye, known as Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP) is a risk factor.
Read more about glaucoma here. Generally speaking the risk of glaucoma rises after the age of 40. It is recommended that eye examinations are performed every 1 - 3 years to monitor for the signs of glaucoma. Certainly in the UK, individuals over 40 years of age with a family history of glaucoma are entitled to free annual eye tests on the NHS.
There is currently no way to prevent glaucoma, but blindness and loss of vision can be prevented if the condition is picked up early enough; in its most common form; primary open angle glaucoma, visual loss is slow and progressive and typically affects peripheral (side) vision first and, as it progresses, central vision is lost. Medication, usually in the form of eye drops, can slow the progression of the disease and, in some cases, surgical treatments may be available.
So, book your eye test today and help raise awareness!
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