Glaucoma is an eye disease that slowly damages the fine nerves connecting the eye to the brain. The damage generally occurs when pressure within the eye rises. If untreated, it causes a loss of peripheral vision resulting in tunnel vision and even total blindness.
Early diagnosis of glaucoma is vital, particularly because people may have few or no symptoms in the early stages. In fact, one in two Australians with glaucoma may be undiagnosed.
Once diagnosed, glaucoma can generally be controlled and treated. Eye drops, surgery or laser treatment may prevent any further loss of vision.
Glaucoma affects one in 15 people over the age of 70, and is rare in those under 50. However, due to its strong hereditary factor, relatives of people with glaucoma should have regular eye examinations.
Functional implications of glaucoma include:
- Having difficulty adjusting to lighting changes (for example, between indoors and outdoors).
- Experiencing occasional blurred vision.
- Seeing a halo around lights.
- Being particularly sensitive to glare and light.
- Having difficulty identifying the edge of steps.
- Being unable to differentiate between the footpath and road.
- Tripping over or bumping into objects.
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