An estimated one million people in Spain suffer from glaucoma, but around 500,000 of them are unaware that they have it.
Experts say that 25,000 people in Spain who are diagnosed with glaucoma could suffer total blindness, despite following all treatments and medical check-ups. A survey in 2008 showed that glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are the primary causes of visual impairment in Spain.
That is why during this World Glaucoma Week (March 10-16), Specsavers Ópticas in Marbella and Fuengirola have stressed the importance of having regular eye tests to detect the early signs and symptoms of the condition.
Glaucoma occurs when naturally-occurring fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, causing a build-up of pressure. The first thing your optometrist will do, therefore, is carry out an eye pressure test using a tonometer.
With chronic glaucoma, the visual loss can initially be very subtle and occurs just beyond your central vision, progressing slowly inwards towards your central vision and outwards into the periphery. This can be detected through a visual field test.
The build-up of pressure in glaucoma can cause damage to the optic nerve and nerve fibres from the retina. This can be assessed in a variety of ways, but the real detail of a customer's eye health will come from a photograph taken with a retinal camera.
Some people are more at risk of developing glaucoma, such as those with a family history of it, those with black-African heritage or who have higher levels of short sightedness. Age also plays a big part, but glaucoma can generally be treated effectively if detected early, and treated with a daily eye drop.
Amrik Sappal, from Specsavers Ópticas Fuengirola, says: "Our sight is precious. A sight test every two years should be on everyone's to do list. It can, quite literally, save your sight."