Sunday 17 November 2019

Keep an eye on the family illness

People with the eye condition glaucoma should remind their blood relatives to be tested for it regularly as they are at a significantly increased risk.

The National Council of the Blind warns that glaucoma can result in serious vision loss over time.

It is becoming much more common among older people here, and the number of people aged over 65 years in Ireland with the condition is predicted to increase by almost two-fifths by 2016, and it may treble by 2041.

The problem is that it can take a long time before people realise they have a problem with their eyesight.

This is because glaucoma usually damages the outer edge of the eye and works slowly inward. It may not become apparent until the glaucoma is near the centre of the eye.

Everyone should have an eye test at least every two years or more frequently if advised by an optician.

More frequent eye tests may be needed if a close blood relative with glaucoma, such as a parent, brother or sister, has the condition.

The tests are painless and quite quick.

If the optician suspects that you have glaucoma, they will refer you to an ophthalmologist.

Any damage to your vision that is caused by glaucoma cannot be repaired which is why early diagnosis is important.

The aim of treatment for every type of glaucoma is to reduce the pressure in the affected eye. Risk factors include:

  • Age -- glaucoma affects one to two people in every 100 who are over 40 years old, and four to five people in every 100 who are over 80 years old.
  • Ethnic origin -- people of Asian origin are at increased risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma.
  • Short sightedness (myopia) -- people who are short-sighted are more likely to develop chronic open-angle glaucoma.
  • Ocular hypertension (OHT) -- raised pressure in the eye.
  • Medical history -- people with diabetes, which is a condition caused by too much glucose in the blood, may be at greater risk.

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