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Keep an eye on your health – World Glaucoma Week (8th-14th March)

It’s World Glaucoma Week and, with that in mind, we’re doing our bit to raise awareness of this debilitating condition. 

Because, according to Fight For Sight, around 60 million people are currently living with glaucoma; it’s the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Alarmingly, a predicted 111.8 million individuals will have the condition by 2040.

What is glaucoma?

According to the NHS, glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged.

What causes glaucoma?

It’s usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye. And this causes pressure inside the eye which damages the optic nerve. Consequently, this causes a loss of vision if left undiagnosed. 

But there are actually several different types of glaucoma.

How many types of glaucoma are there?

There are four types of glaucoma. These are:

  • Primary open-angle glaucoma: this is the most common form of glaucoma and occurs when the eye’s drainage canals become clogged up over time. Most people will have no symptoms or early warning signs
  • Acute angle-closure glaucoma: this occurs when the pressure inside an eye rises quickly. This is caused by a sudden blockage and, although uncommon, can result in permanent sight loss if untreated
  • Secondary glaucoma: this is caused by an underlying eye condition, e.g. inflammation of the eye (uveitis). Open or closed-angle in nature, there are various ways in which the eye pressure can rise
  • Childhood glaucoma (congenital glaucoma): this is a rare type of glaucoma that occurs in very young children. It’s caused by an abnormality in the eye

What puts you at risk of glaucoma?

Although it’s not entirely clear what causes glaucoma, certain factors can increase the risk:

  • Age: you are at risk of developing glaucoma after the age of 40. Furthermore, there is an increased chance of developing the condition after the age of 60
  • Ethnicity: people of African, Hispanic, Caribbean and Asian origin have a higher risk of developing the condition
  • Family history: primary open-angle glaucoma is hereditary. Family history increases the risk of glaucoma by four to nine times
  • Other medical conditions: short and long-sightedness can increase the risk of glaucoma – as well as diabetes. You are also at increased risk if you suffer from migraines, high blood pressure and poor blood circulation.

You may also be at risk if you’ve suffered from an eye injury, have high eye pressure, thin corneas or a thinning optic nerve

How do I prevent glaucoma?

Although it’s difficult to control the onset of glaucoma, you can minimise the risk. Here’s how:

  • Have a routine eye check (visit the NHS website to see if you are eligible for a free eye test)
  • Follow a nutritious and balanced diet
  • Stay hydrated
  • Exercising regularly as this promotes blood flow
  • Refrain from smoking
  • Regulate your caffeine intake
  • Protect your eyes from injury, trauma and the sun

Above all else, it’s important to go for regular eye tests – especially if you’re aged 40+. 

Further information about glaucoma

If you’re worried about glaucoma or affected by the condition, The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the International Glaucoma Association have more advice and information. 

How Welbeing can help

If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, a personal alarm service can provide valuable reassurance and support at home. For example, a sound and flashing beacon will set off a loud alarm in case of an emergency. To find out more, give us a call: 01323 406923 or email info@welbeing.org.uk

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