It is estimated that over 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, yet 50% are unaware they have it, thinking they have healthy eyes.
Known as the 'silent thief of sight' glaucoma develops slowly and often without any symptoms, leaving people undetected until the disease reaches an advanced stage. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause vision loss and may even lead to blindness.
Anyone may develop glaucoma, but the incidence increases with age. About 1 in 10,000 babies are born with glaucoma, by age 40 about 1 in 200 have glaucoma, rising to 1 in 8 at age 80.
Who is at risk?
Some people have a higher risk of developing glaucoma - 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
- are short or long sighted
- have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
- experience migraines
- have had an eye operation or eye injury
- have a history or high or low blood pressure
- experience obstructive sleep apnoea
Glaucoma Australia has developed this quiz to help you assess your potential risk of developing glaucoma based on age, ethnicity, family history of glaucoma and other health issues such as diabetes and myopia.
Is glaucoma hereditary?
In many cases, glaucoma is an inherited (genetic) disease that is passed on within families - you are 10x more likely to have glaucoma if you have a direct family member with glaucoma.
First degree relatives (parents, siblings and children) are at greater risk - having an almost 1 in 4 chance of developing glaucoma in their own lifetime, and that risk doubles if the relative has advanced glaucoma. So knowing your family history is important.
Early assessment by an optometrist, particularly if you have a family history of glaucoma, is critical in detecting glaucoma and commencing treatment in a timely manner.