It may be surprising to some that glaucoma is actually one of the biggest causes of blindness in the world. In fact, it 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.
Suffolk and Norfolk’s eye health experts at Specsavers stores have joined forces to offer advice on glaucoma.
We’re all guilty of googling our symptoms but with glaucoma being symptomless, it’s important to understand what the condition is before you start worrying. What’s more, a survey by Specsavers and International Glaucoma Association (IGA) revealed that nearly a fifth of the nation has never even heard of glaucoma and 43% of the UK public do not know if they’re eligible for a free eye test  - the best way to detect glaucoma.
So 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.
People of black-African origin are at higher risk of glaucoma
Glaucoma strikes 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 20% higher if the disease is in your family and blindness is about six times more common .
Lots of celebrities have glaucoma
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.
A word from the International Glaucoma Association (IGA)
Karen Osborn, Chief Executive of the IGA, said: ‘There are several factors which could make you more at risk of developing glaucoma such as family history of the disease. Those who have black–African heritage or who have higher levels of short sightedness are also more at risk. Your age also plays a big part. Two in every 100 people over 40 are affected by the condition .’
 Censuswide carried out a survey on 2009 people in February 2020 on behalf of Specsavers and IGA