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World Glaucoma Week 11-17 March

image-tools (42)Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, affecting an estimated 300,000 Australians. Unfortunately, half of these people do not know they have the condition and with no early warning signs, glaucoma often remains undiagnosed until significant, permanent vision loss has already occurred.

During World Glaucoma Week (11-17 March), experts are encouraging all Australians over the age of 40 to make an appointment with their eye health professional for an eye check-up. This is especially important if you have a family history of the disease; people with a close relative with glaucoma are eight times more likely to develop the disease themselves.

A check up for glaucoma is simple and painless. It involves assessing the structure of the optic nerve, measuring the eye pressure (tonometry), and assessing the visual field, which can detect peripheral vision loss (where glaucoma strikes first).

Early detection is critical because timely treatment can slow or prevent further vision loss. At the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), researchers are investigating causes of glaucoma at a cellular level and ways to better treat the disease at a clinical level. Researchers are also conducting genetic research in glaucoma.

Professor Jonathan Crowston is the head of the Glaucoma Research team at the Centre for Eye Research Australia.

“Glaucoma is called the ‘sneak thief of sight’ because it steals your sight gradually, so you probably won’t notice any changes until the damage has already occurred. That is why it’s so important to have regular, complete eye check-ups, including tests for glaucoma,” he said, “especially if you’re at high risk, such as those people with a family history of the condition.”

Current glaucoma trial recruitment at CERA:

CERA is currently recruiting participants for a study looking at the outcomes of different glaucoma treatments.

The study will compare the safety, effectiveness, quality of life impact and cost of laser treatment versus standard topical (eye drop) medication.

To participate in the study, you must be over 35 years of age and be diagnosed with glaucoma but not yet treated.

To participate, or receive more information on this study, please contact Jessica Brennan at 9929 8399 or email jbrennan@unimelb.edu.au

To learn more about glaucoma, visit the Glaucoma Australia website www.glaucoma.org.au or read our fact sheet here.