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Exposing the silent thief of sight

Exposing the silent thief of sight

Did you know that over 78 million people globally have glaucoma? This is why it’s imperative to protect your eyes from the silent thief of sight. In fact, it is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. Signs of glaucoma are not usually noticeable in the beginning, which is where its name, “the silent thief of sight”. That’s why we’re getting the facts straight about this optical disease.

Glaucoma slowly damages the eyes. While there are treatments that can delay the loss of vision, there is no cure and up to 40% of vision can be lost if glaucoma is left untreated. Many people do not realise they have glaucoma until they’ve already experienced permanent vision loss.

What causes glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the damage of the optic nerve, a cord at the back of the eye that connects to the brain. The cord has many “wires” known as nerve endings, that send visuals to the brain. The optic nerve is damage do by pressure on the inside of the eye which causes nerve tissue loss.

With so much information about glaucoma, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and fearful about the disease. We’ve compiled a guide to help you understand glaucoma and identify any symptoms before it’s too late:

  • Myth: Surgery cures glaucoma.
  • Fact: While it is true that glaucoma cannot be treated, it can be controlled and managed with medicines and laser treatments.
  • Myth: People with good eyesight cannot get glaucoma.
  • Fact: This is not true. There are different types of glaucoma and no obvious symptoms until the later stages. The later the disease is diagnosed and treated, the more likely it is that noticeable vision loss may occur.
  • Myth: Glaucoma does not run in my family, which means I cannot get the disease.
  • Fact: While family history can be a common risk factor, many glaucoma patients without a family history have been diagnosed. This is why regular eye check-ups are important, to spot the disease before it is too late.
  • Myth: Glaucoma only affects old people.
  • Fact: Glaucoma is commonly known to affect people over the age of 60 but it can affect anybody at any age – even our little ones.

Protecting yourself against glaucoma

Eye exams provide the best protection against glaucoma and can also prevent long-term damage. We’ve put together some top tips to protect yourself against glaucoma:

  • Protect your eyes: Eye injuries can result in traumatic or secondary glaucoma diagnosis. It’s important to wear protective eyewear when playing sport or other activities that could potentially damage your eyes.
  • Start a glaucoma-friendly exercise routine: Studies have shown that regular and moderate exercise can reduce your chances of getting the disease.
  • Get regular eye check-ups: Prevention is better than cure. A comprehensive eye examination can protect you from glaucoma.

For more resources and assistance, please contact the South African Glaucoma Society (SAGS):

Secretary to SAGS: Lauren Ferreira

Tel: 076 605 4175

Fax: 086 260 3594