Glaucoma on the rise as population ages

But only half of Australians with glaucoma know they have the potentially blinding disease, according to an eye expert.

An Australian eye expert says half of the 300,000 Australians with glaucoma are unaware that they have the potentially blinding disease.

The managing director of the Centre for Eye Research Austrlaia, Professor Jonathan Crowston also warned that the number Australians with glaucoma would rise to 420,000 by 2025.

“Glaucoma is dubbed the ‘sneak thief of sight’ because vision loss caused by the disease is gradual, often with no symptoms or warning,” said Professor Crowston.

“Around 150,000 Australians have undiagnosed glaucoma. If you’re 40 years or over and glaucoma runs in your family, it’s very possible you’re living with the disease but do not yet realise it.”

Glaucoma is a hereditary disease that causes damage to the optic nerve which connects the brain to the eyes. It is the most common cause of irreversible blindness.

Although current treatment options can delay the progression of glaucoma, they cannot reverse any damage that has already been done.

During World Glaucoma Week (7 – 13 March 2010), Australians aged 40 years and over and those who have a family history of glaucoma, are being urged to book an eye test.

“An eye test can detect glaucoma long before a patient notices any symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of irreversible vision loss caused by the disease,” said Professor Crowston.

Tags: diagnosis, eye-care, eye-sight, glaucoma,

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