Glaucoma – runs in families

Around 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, but half of them don’t know they have it!

Glaucoma week March 6 to 12, 2022

World Glaucoma Week aims to focus attention on the disease and increase glaucoma testing around the world.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma develops slowly and often without any symptoms until the disease reaches an advanced stage. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause vision loss and may even lead to blindness. BUT early detection can save your sight!

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, but loss of sight is usually gradual.  A considerable amount of peripheral (side) vision may be lost before you are aware of there being a problem with your sight, that’s why we recommend regular eye checks.

When was your last check up?

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but the incidence increases with age. About 1 in 10,000 babies are born with glaucoma, by age 40 about 1 in 200 have glaucoma, rising to 1 in 8 at age 80.

Some people have a higher risk of developing glaucoma - they are people who:

  • have a family history of glaucoma
  • have high eye pressure
  • are aged over 50
  • are of African or Asian descent
  • have diabetes
  • are short or long sighted
  • have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
  • experience migraines
  • have had an eye operation or eye injury

have a history of high or low blood pressure

experience obstructive sleep apnoea

Get tested

Left untreated, glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss. Early detection saves sight. Early assessment by an optometrist, particularly if you have a family history of glaucoma, is critical in detecting glaucoma and commencing treatment in a timely manner.

Glaucoma Australia recommends all Australians aged 50 or older visit an optometrist every 2 years for a comprehensive eye exam, and if you have a family history of glaucoma or are of Asian or African descent, we recommend you get your eyes checked every 2 years from the age of 40.

If a member of your family has glaucoma, we recommend that you get regular eye health checks starting 5-10 years earlier than the age your affected relative developed glaucoma.

Is glaucoma hereditary?

In many cases, glaucoma is an inherited (genetic) disease that is passed on within families - you are 10 time more likely to have glaucoma if you have a direct family member with the disease.

Parents, siblings and children of those with glaucoma are at greater risk – with an almost 1 in 4 chance of developing glaucoma in their own lifetime, and that risk doubles if the relative has advanced glaucoma.

Knowing your family history is important, so why not sit down with your family today and decide what you need to do to make sure you and those closest to you are protected against this disease and that you all benefit from improved long term eye health.