World Glaucoma Week is taking place this month - and the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association are urging people to have regular eye tests to help detect the condition, which can lead to blindness.

Regular sight checks can increase the chances of your glaucoma being detected early – which could reduce your risk of sight loss.

But what is glaucoma? Unhar Gupta, ophthalmic director at Specsavers Wealdstone, explains…

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a relatively common eye condition, which occurs when the optic nerve is damaged. This normally happens because of a build-up of fluid which can increase pressure in the front of your eye.

We are all at risk of getting glaucoma, although it is more common in older people, which is why regular eye tests – every two years at least – are so important. If not diagnosed and treated early, glaucoma can lead to sight loss.

What might put me at higher risk of getting glaucoma?

As I said, age is normally a factor. But you may also be at higher risk if you have close family member with glaucoma, or if you have diabetes or other eye conditions.

You may also be higher risk if you are from an ethnic group which is more pre-disposed to glaucoma.

How would I know if I had glaucoma?

You might experience some blurring to your vision, or experience a rainbow effect around bright lights.

While both eyes are normally affected by glaucoma, you may only notice a problem with one. But glaucoma can develop really slowly and have no symptoms until it is too late for your sight to be saved, so regular eye tests really matter.

If you do experience any symptoms you should see an optician right away. And if they come on suddenly, you should go to A&E or an eye hospital.

How is glaucoma treated? And can it be prevented?

The type of treatment recommended for you will depend on your individual circumstances, but could include eye drops, laser treatment and surgery. You will also need to have regular check-ups forever to make sure that your glaucoma stays under control.

You cannot prevent glaucoma from happening – and unfortunately sight loss which happens before it is detected cannot be reversed, which is why regular eye tests are so important. Treatment can stop it getting any worse, so detecting it as early as possible matters.

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