Glaucoma – Keep An Eye On Your Family
Glaucoma has a hereditary and non-hereditary form, meaning everyone is at risk of developing it. However, individuals with a family history of the disease are more likely to be affected.
Glaucoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness in the developed world, is caused by a rise in pressure within the eye that damages the optic nerve. The increased pressure is most often due to a blockage of the eye’s drainage channels; this prevents eye fluid from flowing out. As the pressure builds, the nerve deteriorates, and blind spots develop in your vision. If left untreated, glaucoma leads to blindness.
There are a variety of glaucomas and most cannot be prevented. The good news is that regular eye exams can catch this condition early, and even though there is no way to reverse the existing damage to the optic nerve, treatment to lower pressure in the eye can prevent or slow down vision loss. It cannot be cured, but with proper treatment, further damage can be prevented. Managing glaucoma by staying organised and following treatment plans, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, can help you retain your quality of life.
Watching Out For Family
Family history is a very important risk factor for glaucoma. Having a first degree relative (father, mother, brother, sister or child) with primary open angle glaucoma, which accounts for 90 per cent of glaucoma cases, increases the risk of developing it by about 2-3 times.
If you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with glaucoma, make sure our optometrists are fully aware of it.
Glaucoma And Age
Primary open angle glaucoma becomes much more common as we age. It is uncommon below the age of 40, but the number of people with the condition rises from about two per cent of the population over the age of 40 to more than five per cent over the age of 80.
In its early stages, glaucoma usually doesn’t have any symptoms. Sadly, it is not until the late stages of the disease, after significant damage has already been caused, that people with glaucoma begin to notice eye problems, such as a loss of peripheral vision and slow vision loss.
Glaucoma is sometimes called the “silent thief of sight” because of the way it slowly sneaks up and causes irreparable harm before you know it. Regular eye exams that include checking for glaucoma are so very important, particularly if people in your family have the disease.
Regular eye exams at John O’connor Optometrist include examining the optic nerve through a microscope, as well as measuring pressure within the eye. We also recommend digital retinal photography. This allows our optometrists to see about 80% of the retina so we can detect even the earliest signs of disease.
See us for regular eye tests: we take your eye care seriously and so should you.
In general, a comprehensive eye exam is recommended once every two years for people aged 40 to 54, and every one to two years for those aged over 55, even if there are no known problems with eyes or vision.
Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Family
If you, your parents or your siblings have glaucoma, then everybody in your family should most certainly have regular eye examinations, particularly if they are over 40 years of age. Taking a retinal image and testing for glaucoma and other eye diseases at each annual eye exam gives our optometrists the opportunity to compare your photos from year to year; we can then spot even the most subtle changes to help monitor your eye health.
Is Glaucoma Hereditary?
A family history of glaucoma increases your chances of developing it, but everybody is at risk. To get answers to all your questions about glaucoma call 09 522 1283 to speak to our Newmarket optometrists. To speak to an optometrist in Henderson call 09 836 1731.