Glaucoma Australia has launched a risk awareness campaign ahead of World Glaucoma Week (10–16 March). The campaign will target people who are at greater risk of developing glaucoma to encourage them to get their eyes tested.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable blindness in Australia, affecting over 300,000 Australians,1 yet it is estimated that 50% of those living with glaucoma are undiagnosed.1
While nine out of 10 Australians say that sight is their most valued sense,2 over eight million Australians are still not having regular eye tests.3
Glaucoma Australia CEO Annie Gibbins said, “We want to dispel the myth that glaucoma only affects the elderly, which is why we are launching this new risk awareness campaign during World Glaucoma Week. We want to encourage anyone at risk of developing glaucoma to get their eyes tested, especially if they have a family history of glaucoma – they are 10 times more likely to develop glaucoma if they have a direct relative with it.”
People with a family history of glaucoma, those who are of Asian or African descent and those over 50, have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.4 Other risk factors include diabetes, myopia (nearsighted), prolonged cortisone (steroid) use, migraines, a previous eye injury or eye operation and a history of high or low blood pressure.4
“Glaucoma Australia recommends all Australians 50 years or older visit an optometrist every two years for a comprehensive eye exam, and if you have a family history of glaucoma or are of Asian or African descent, we recommend you get your eyes checked every two years from the age of 40,” Ms Gibbins said.
“Glaucoma is often nicknamed the ‘silent thief of sight’ because people almost never see it coming. There are no early symptoms for the most common form of glaucoma and before they notice anything unusual with their sight, significant vision may already be lost forever,” said Glaucoma Australia Optometry Committee Chair, Dr Ben Ashby.
“Vision loss from glaucoma can be devastating and irreversible. However, early detection and treatment to lower eye pressure can halt glaucoma and save sight for life” added Glaucoma Australia Ophthalmology Committee Chair Dr Simon Skalicky.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
Although anyone may develop glaucoma, some people have a higher risk – they are people who:
- Have a family history of glaucoma,
- Have high eye pressure,
- Are aged over 50,
- Are of African or Asian descent,
- Have diabetes,
- Have myopia,
- Have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication,
- Experience migraines,
- Have had an eye operation or eye injury, and/or
- Have a history or high or low blood pressure.
Abridged: NHMRC Guidelines, 2010
Campaign Materials and Support
Glaucoma Australia has developed collateral that optometrists and ophthalmologists can use to support its risk awareness campaign. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keel S, Xie J, Foreman J, Lee PY, Alwan M, Fahy ET, et al. Prevalence of glaucoma in the Australian National Eye Health Survey. Br J Ophthalmol. 2018; 26 April 2018:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2017-311786.
- The National Eye Health Survey 2016
- State of the Nation: Australia and New Zealand Eye Health Report 2018
- NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) Guidelines for the screening, prognosis, diagnosis, management and prevention of glaucoma 2010.