GET your eyes checked – is the message from a top Huddersfield eye surgeon.
Mr Nitin Anand, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, is urging people to have an eye examination ahead of World Glaucoma Week, held between March 8 to 14.
The disease, known as ‘the silent thief’, can destroy up to 40% of a person’s eyesight before they even realise.
Indeed, half of glaucoma sufferers are unaware they actually have the condition.
And by the time they notice the symptoms, their sight has usually gone for good.
Mr Anand, said: “Glaucoma is a disease of the nerve to the eye.
“There are no symptoms of the disease until you go blind.
“The patient starts to lose patches of vision without even knowing. It is not until these patches join together that they realise. Once you lose vision to glaucoma you do not get it back because you lose nerve fibres.
“The best thing is to catch people early.”
Anyone can develop the condition, but people with glaucoma sufferers in the family are most at risk along with those over the age of 40 or who suffer from high pressure in their eye.
A test which shoots a puff of air into the eye is routinely used to test for glaucoma. But Mr Anand stressed those most at risk should have regular screening.
He said: “They need to have more than a puff of air test. On its own, it is poor. Half the patients probably present with low pressure. There is very good screening available now, which will pick up on glaucoma much better.”
He said eye pressure – the classic sign of glaucoma – was caused by a blockage in the mesh of the eye that helps drain fluid away.
But he assured the vast majority of patients could be easily treated using eye drops to slow down the rate of progressions.
He added: “If a patients says they are having problems and things are blurred, it is too late by then, unfortunately.
“Visit your optician regularly, especially if you are over 40. It is the simplest thing you can do.
“People come to me with advanced glaucoma and say they haven’t seen an optician in 15 years.The older you get the more glaucoma you get.
“If we look at people over 80, we see 8% have glaucoma, so age is one of the biggest risk factors.”
A regular eye test every two years is recommended to keep eyes healthy and prevent the loss of sight.
QUARMBY mum Jan Taylor, 52, is among the thousands of people living with glaucoma.
The special care baby nurse was diagnosed with the condition in her 40s when high eye pressure was spotted as she underwent treatment for a thyroid condition.
She has since undergone eye surgery in her left eye to create a channel to aid drainage and ease the pressure.
But she has lost a small part of her eyesight for good.
She said: “ I was lucky they found it early.
“Some of my sight has gone in my left eye and I didn’t know. It is amazing how the eyes adjust.
“I realised when I couldn’t see the top of my husband’s head one day.
“But it doesn’t affect my daily life. I can still drive and work.
“Even if it is glaucoma, it is treatable. Your eyes are so important. Once they have gone, they have gone”.