Glaucoma cannot be self-detected and can cause irreversible blindness if it is left untreated, so part of acknowledging World Glaucoma Week is to highlight the importance of a routine eye health check.
Specsavers offers a comprehensive eye test including an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan, which is an ultrasound of the optic nerve, macula and retina free of charge as part of a routine eye test.
This is considered the gold standard for early glaucoma detection. Specsavers supports and works with Glaucoma Australia towards a common goal.
"We both believe the best way to give hope is to detect glaucoma early, initiate treatment and provide ongoing monitoring to ensure they remain on their treatment plan in order to preserve their vision for the rest of their life," Specsavers Batemans Bay director Samantha King said.
Specsavers Batemans Bay has been servicing the area for over 10 years. "We have a dynamic team of seven in our optical practice, and as of October 2018 we are very excited to now offer audiology services as well. We are now a primary eye as well as ear health care provider," she said.
Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases where vision is lost due to damage to the optic nerve. "Generally there are no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages of this eye condition which is why it is called 'the sneak thief of sight'," Mrs King said.
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A considerable amount of peripheral (side) vision may be lost before there is an awareness of any problem. Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.
According to Glaucoma Australia, approximately 300,000 Australians have glaucoma and 50 per cent of people with glaucoma in Australia are undiagnosed.
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but a family history of glaucoma is a significant risk factor for developing this condition. Older people are at a higher risk but children and young adults can develop glaucoma as well.
"The primary problem in glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve from Intraocular pressure (IOP), which is the fluid pressure inside the eye," Mrs King said.
"The level of eye pressure at which there is progressive damage to an optic nerve varies between people: some individuals with high eye pressures do not develop nerve damage, while others with normal eye pressure develop progressive nerve damage.
"Unfortunately there is currently no cure for glaucoma and vision cannot be regained, although early detection and adherence to treatment with either eye drops or laser/microsurgery can halt or significantly slow progression, so it is vitally important to have regular eye examinations."