Glaucoma is a group of conditions in which there is there is a characteristic pattern of loss of structure and function of the optic nerve. Approximately 300,000 Australians have glaucoma. Generally there are no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages of this condition. The loss of sight is usually gradual and a considerable amount of peripheral (side) vision may be lost before there is an awareness of any problem.
Some people have a higher than normal risk of getting glaucoma. This includes people who:
Treatment involves modifying those risk factors that are important for the individual. Eye drops or laser treatment may be used to lower intra-ocular pressure. Occasionally surgery is required to achieve this. The condition can usually be controlled in the long term and often requires life-time monitoring and sometimes long-term use of eye drops. Treatment is often easier is started when the condition is in its early stages. Ideally, everyone over the age of 40 should be checked annually for glaucoma. Fortunately, we now have good tools to deal with condition, particularly if detected in its earlier stages.