Glaucoma affects more than 64 million people worldwide but many don’t even realise they have it due to the gradual onset nature of the condition.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma occurs when naturally-occurring fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, causing a build-up of pressure. The condition often affects both eyes, usually to varying degrees, however, there are two types - chronic glaucoma which develops slowly with subtle changes to your vision, and acute glaucoma which develops rapidly with a sudden, painful build-up of pressure in the eye.
Who is at risk of having glaucoma?
Anyone can be at risk of glaucoma, which is why a regular eye test is so important to detect and monitor any changes in your eye health. Like most health conditions, the earlier glaucoma is detected, the better.
Glaucoma can also strike earlier and progresses faster in men and women of black-African or black-Caribbean origin and occurs about five times more often. The risk for glaucoma is also 20% higher if the disease is in your family and blindness is about six times more common.
There are many high profile stars who live with the condition. U2 singer Bono revealed in 2014 that he has had glaucoma for 20 years and is receiving ongoing treatment. Astronaut John Glenn nearly lost his sight to it and campaigned in the early 2000s, urging people to get regular eye tests. Other celebrities known to have had glaucoma are Whoopi Goldberg, Dame Maggie Smith and Andrea Bocelli.
What can I do to prevent glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the biggest cause of blindness in the world and there I only really one way to prevent it and that is to detect glaucoma early through regular eye tests.