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Dr Alastair Lockwood, ophthalmologist and eye health specialist at Feel Good Contacts, warns that “serious and irreversible” eye conditions like glaucoma have gone undetected amid missed routine eye check-ups. What’s worse, if you leave glaucoma untreated, it can lead to loss of vision.
Glaucoma most commonly occurs in adults in their 70s and 80s but it can affect anyone.
The condition is usually triggered by the build-up of fluid in the front part of your eye.
This increases pressure inside of the organ, the NHS explains.
Dr Lockwood said: “Glaucoma is one of the most common causes of irreversible blindness.
“It is where the optic nerve (the electrical cable that carries information from your eye to your brain) degenerates more quickly than it should.”
This usually happens because of the high pressure induced by the fluid in your eye.
He continued: “Our brains are able to compensate for the natural degeneration so we have little awareness of disease progression.
“However, this means there are often no symptoms until the disease is very advanced, and we cannot, yet, rejuvenate a human optic nerve.”
What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
The NHS explains that this condition doesn’t usually cause any symptoms early on, which makes it tricky to spot.
Glaucoma usually develops slowly over many years and strikes at your peripheral vision first.
However, the doctor shared that symptoms might include:
- Pain (particularly in bright lights)
- Vision loss.
He noted that this is caused by the rise in the pressure.
Furthermore, many people might not realise they suffer from this condition unless they get tested.
Dr Lockwood said: “Which is why regular eye checks are so important.
“The general recommendation is to visit your optician at least every two years for an examination for a full health check with a prescription review, and at least yearly if there are added risk factors, for example, a family history.”
Am I at a higher risk of developing glaucoma?
The eye health specialist shared people that are more at risk of developing the disease include those who:
- Have a family history of glaucoma
- Are over 40 years of age
- Are short-sighted or long-sighted
- Have hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Have diabetes.
He added: “Unfortunately, there is little that one can do to reduce the risk of developing glaucoma.
“So, I am urging patients not to neglect their eye health.
“The key to avoiding glaucoma progression is to have regular eye checks which crucially include eye pressure measurement, optic nerve examination and a field test (the ability to see things out of the corner of your eye).”
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