Glaucoma is often referred to as the “sneak thief of sight” – because it rarely presents symptoms; it can take away as much as 40% of a person’s vision without them noticing, and once this vision has gone, it cannot be restored.
In line with Glaucoma Awareness Month this January, we look at the risk factors for glaucoma and how an early diagnosis can be achieved, increasing the likelihood of stopping the sight-stealing disease in its tracks.
Glaucoma can occur in one or both eyes, and there are two main types – open-angle glaucoma – the most common form, accounting for around 90% of all cases – and angle-closure glaucoma.
It develops when a clear fluid called the aqueous humor leaves the eye’s anterior chamber too slowly through the drainage canals, resulting in a fluid build-up. This build-up increases eye pressure, causing damage to the optic nerve that can lead to vision loss.
The optic nerve links the retina – the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye – to the brain; any damage to the optic nerve can lead to vision loss and blindness.