The Road Ahead : June 2013
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 20 LIFESTYLE | WELLBEING THE ROAD AHEAD JUN/JUL 2013 keep an eye on glaucoma GLAUCOMA IS THE SECOND LEADING CAUSE OF BLINDNESS, BUT EARLY DETECTION AND TREATMENT CAN STOP SOME OF THE DAMAGE. STORY BELINDA PETERS THE ABILITY TO see clearly can easily be taken for granted, until that ability is taken away. Glaucoma is a condition that gradually causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve and can often go undetected. According to Professor Joanne Wood, from the QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), due to its gradual nature many sufferers were unaware their vision was being impacted. "Because glaucoma is gradual, most people don't know they have it until it is picked up at an eye examination, by which time the person has most probably already lost some vision," Professor Wood said. "Glaucoma often starts in the peripheral, or side vision, area and, because of its gradual onset, can go unnoticed and people carry on with their normal activities unaware they are losing visual capacity." There is no pain or discomfort associated with glaucoma, so the lack of symptoms makes early detection difficult. As the disease progresses, symptoms may include painless blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision and difficulty adjusting to low light. Those most at risk of glaucoma include those with a family history of Protect your eyes by: • Having regular eye check-ups. • Wearing sunglasses with good UV protection and a hat to reduce UV exposure. • Consuming a diet high in anti-oxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins E and C and minerals including zinc and selenium. • Protect your eyes from hazards by wearing safety glasses when there is a risk of eye injury. visionaustralia.org ... it's also cited as one of the main reasons older drivers give up driving. the ailment, aged 40 years and over, are short sighted, have diabetes, have had a serious injury to the eye, used steroids regularly over a long period of time or have hypertension. Professor Wood said that the condition could lead to increased number of falls in older sufferers and affect driving ability. Ongoing research at QUT was aimed at providing guidelines for licensing of drivers with glaucoma and also examining potential interventions to assist safe driving in people with the ailment, she said. "Driving is a highly complex, visual task and people with glaucoma often report problems with glare and night driving. It's also cited as one of the main reasons older drivers give up driving," Professor Wood said. Glaucoma can be treated with medication, laser treatment or surgery. As early detection and treatment of this condition can prevent or delay vision loss, Professor Wood recommends that everyone should have their eyes examined at least every two years. "Although glaucoma can't be reversed, its progress can be slowed, or sometimes stopped, with treatment," she said.