A new campaign titled Glaucoma Aware is carrying out a nationwide mission to unearth 150,000 Australians who face preventable blindness and don’t know it.

Launching this World Glaucoma Week (March 12 – 18), the campaign aims to educate Australians about glaucoma and encourage those at-risk to get a comprehensive eye check.

More than 300,000 Australians have glaucoma yet only half have been diagnosed – typically because they haven’t had a simple eye check by an eye health provider such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Around 60 per cent of Australians either haven’t been tested or don’t know if they’ve been tested for glaucoma.

Optometrist and Director of Eyecare at OPSM, Peter Murphy, comments on how blindness from glaucoma is a tragedy that is largely preventable.

“The biggest risk factor for glaucoma is having a family history of the disease,” Mr Murphy said.

“In fact, relatives of glaucoma patients have a ten-fold increased risk of developing the disease.

“Glaucoma can make it very difficult for people to carry on with their day to day activities.

People affected by the condition are more likely to be involved in falls and motor vehicle accidents than those of the same age without the condition which is why I am urging all Australians to visit their local optometrist to get their eyes tested.”

Geoff Pollard, National Executive Officer of Glaucoma Australia, said: “Glaucoma doesn’t just appear in families, anyone can get it. Glaucoma prevalence is four to ten times higher in people aged 60 years or older, compared to individuals in their 40s.”

“World Glaucoma Week presents a valuable opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis of glaucoma. National guidelines encourage every Australian over the age

of 50 to get a comprehensive eye exam to test for the early signs of glaucoma which will assist in unearthing the 150,000 Australians currently unaware that they are living with the

disease.

It is critical that at-risk Australians understand the importance of regular testing and that early diagnosis could save their vision.”

If people fall into the following groups, they should visit their optometrist or opthalmologist to get their eyes checked for glaucoma:

People with a family history of glaucoma; Caucasians and Asians over 50 years of age.

The Glaucoma Aware campaign, sponsored by Novartis and supported by Glaucoma Australia and OPSM, aims to encourage Australians to avoid missing out on life’s special moments by getting their eyes checked for glaucoma.