It is estimated that over 50% are unaware they have glaucoma. 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 people will have glaucoma, this increases 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