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7,000 people in Cornwall at risk of serious eye condition

7,000 people in Cornwall at risk of serious eye condition

Published by Sarah Yeomanat 6:58am 23rd June 2019. (Updated at 7:38am 23rd June 2019)

Thousands of people living in Cornwall are said to be at risk of having their vision stolen by a condition often dubbed the 'silent thief of sight'.

An estimated 7,000 residents are in danger of going blind from glaucoma - one of the largest causes of blindness in the world - due to its gradual onset.

Now Specsavers experts across the Duchy are highlighting the importance of looking after our eyes as part of Glaucoma Awareness Week.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma usually occurs when naturally-occurring fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, leading to a build-up of pressure.

This can then cause damage to the optic nerve and nerve fibres from the retina, in most cases without any symptoms.

While the condition cannot be reversed, it can be managed - but early detection is key.

More than 64 million people around the world live with glaucoma - but as long as you are sensible you don't need to let it take over your life.

eyes

"There are several factors which can increase your risk of developing glaucoma such as a family history of the disease.

"Other risk factors would include those who have black-African or Asian heritage as well as those who have higher levels of short sightedness.

"Of course, age also needs to be considered as two in every 100 people over the age of 40 are affected with the condition.

"The good news is glaucoma can generally be treated effectively if detected early, and in most cases, daily eye drops are used."

Optometrist and director at Specsavers in Truro, Claude Lombard

eye test

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms can vary depending on what type of glaucoma you have - either chronic or acute.

Many don't realise there is anything wrong with their sight which is why regular visits to the optician are essential.

If you do notice any symptoms, they might include blurred vision, or seeing rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights. Both eyes are usually affected, although it may be worse in one eye.

Very occasionally, glaucoma can develop suddenly and cause:

  • intense eye pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • a red eye
  • a headache
  • tenderness around the eyes
  • seeing rings around lights
  • blurred vision

Source: NHS

eyes

"With the most common form of glaucoma, visual loss is initially very subtle, affecting mainly the peripheral vision rather than central, which can make it harder to notice.

"Most people are not even aware there is any visual loss because of the way the eyes' visual fields overlap to compensate for one another.

"Some forms of glaucoma are more rapid with a sudden painful build-up of pressure in the eye which produces blurred vision and haloes around lights, but they are less common."

Optometrist and director at Specsavers in Truro, Claude Lombard

Experts say it is vitally important people attend regular check-ups at their optician to check for any signs.

At your appointment they will test your eye pressure as high pressure is a common sign of glaucoma, and they'll do a visual field test which can detect any subtle blind spots you may not be aware of, which can also be an indicator of the condition.

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