By Alexa Kaczka
Despite being one of the leading causes of blindness in the western world, it is surprising how little is known about glaucoma and how to spot its development, a group of experts have noted.
According to specialists at the World Ophthalmology Congress, millions of people around the globe could currently be suffering from the early stages of glaucoma but are not seeking treatment for it because they do not realise what is slowly but surely happening to them.
Dr Saleh Saif Al Mosabi, head of the ophthalmology department at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Abu Dhabi, where the congress was held, said that it is surprising how little is known about the condition.
According to NHS figures, glaucoma of some type is found in around two per cent of the population over the age of 40, with an estimated 500,000 sufferers in England and Wales alone, and more than 70 million people affected across the world.
Despite this, Dr Al Mosabi told the National that half of those with glaucoma do not realise they have developed the disease until it is in its final stage, meaning a rising number of people are not seeking help when they can do, even though it could potentially save their sight.
"Glaucoma could be happening to you and you are not even aware of it," he noted, adding that the irreversible disease is only usually detected when more prominent symptoms manifest themselves, such as the loss of peripheral vision.
As a result, it is important that people who are advancing in years, and particularly those how have a family history of glaucoma, pay regular visits to an eyecare professional to have their vision tested.
That was one of the key messages coming out of the World Ophthalmology Congress, which is aiming to encourage people across the globe to pay more attention to their eyesight to stave off the causes of blindness.
by Emily Tait