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Ophthalmologists encouraged to discuss glaucoma with patients

14/03/2018By Matthew Woodley • Staff Journalist
The Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO) is asking eye surgeons to talk with patients about glaucoma and its risk factors, to coincide with other awareness campaigns generated during World Glaucoma Week.

According to an ASO release announcing the campaign, the goal is to raise awareness of the often ‘hidden’ eye condition and support Glaucoma Australia’s quest to find the 150,000 Australians who are unknowing sufferers of the disease.

Estimates suggest 300,000 Australians currently suffer from glaucoma but only half of them are aware they have the condition.


“Achieving greater awareness of glaucoma and its risk factors comes down to communication. For us as doctors that means we need to be creating conversations with our patients about glaucoma.”
Ashish Agar, ASP vice president and glaucoma surgeon

ASO vice president, glaucoma surgeon Dr Ashish Agar, said the ASO had sent its membership base of close to 500 ophthalmologists a reminder email this week with six simple glaucoma facts they should be talking to patients about.

“Achieving greater awareness of glaucoma and its risk factors comes down to communication. For us as doctors that means we need to be creating conversations with our patients about glaucoma,” Agar said.

“A key fact many people are not aware of is that first degree relatives of people with glaucoma have an up to 10-fold increased risk of developing the condition. Regular eye exams for these at-risk Australians are imperative.”

Agar added it was also important for people to know that the early detection of glaucoma provides more options for treatment and better outcomes.

Meanwhile, Vision 2020 Australia has also encouraged people to undergo regular exams in order to ensure they are not unknowingly living with the disease.

“We encourage all Australians to have regular eye tests, especially those with a direct family link to help prevent and treat conditions like glaucoma. Eye tests can save your vision; don’t take your sight for granted,” Vision 2020 Australia CEO Ms Carla Northam said.

Glaucoma Australia CEO Ms Annie Gibbins supported Vision 2020’s message and pointed out the risk of developing the disease was significantly greater for blood relatives of people who already had glaucoma.

“Considering you are 10 times more likely to have glaucoma if you have a direct family member with glaucoma, and up to 50% more likely if their glaucoma is advanced, it is the relatives who we are reaching out to during World Glaucoma Week to be glaucoma aware and increase early detection. Our primary mission is to eliminate blindness due to glaucoma,” Gibbins said.

World Glaucoma Week runs until March 17.

Image courtesy: Freepik | peoplecreations



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