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Vision & Eye Q3 2022

Why you should keep an eye out for the silent thief of sight

iStock / Getty Images Plus / gmast3r

Joanne Creighton

Chief Executive, Glaucoma UK

Frances Baillie

Glaucoma patient

Over 700,000 people in the UK are living with glaucoma, yet half of them are unaware of it because the disease often has no symptoms.

Getting to know glaucoma

Glaucoma is the name of a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve transfers visual information from the eye to the brain, and any damage to it can result in irreversible sight loss or blindness.

In many cases, the peripheral vision is lost first, but this often goes unnoticed because the central vision is still good. The brain is also clever at compensating for any gaps in vision by filling in the blanks without us realising. This means damage can be done, and significant vision is lost before anyone notices there is a problem.

Developing the disease

Anyone can develop glaucoma. Some people are at higher risk than others, including those with a family history of the disease and people of African-Caribbean origin who are four times more likely to develop glaucoma than people of European origin. The risk also increases as we get older, with one in 10 people aged 75 or over being affected.

For most, the only way to spot glaucoma is through an eye test. Eye tests aren’t just about checking whether you need glasses—they also look at eye health. As glaucoma can be asymptomatic, it’s important to have an eye test every two years, even if you have no sight issues.

Although any vision lost to glaucoma can’t be recovered, most people can retain useful sight for life, thanks to early diagnosis, regular monitoring, and treatment.

Meet Frances

Frances was diagnosed with glaucoma following a routine eye test.

“I was surprised when I was diagnosed with glaucoma because I had no idea there was anything wrong. I was lucky to be diagnosed and treated in the early stages because it’s meant that my glaucoma has had very little impact on my life—thankfully, my early diagnosis meant I started treatment before there was any noticeable damage to my sight. I would urge anyone to make an appointment for a check-up. That way, any issues can be dealt with at an early stage, and any sight loss can hopefully be prevented.”


Frances Baillie

Glaucoma patient

If you need support and advice about glaucoma, we are here.
To find out how we can help you and your loved ones live well with the disease, visit

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