Save Your Vision: 5 Important Glaucoma Facts For Africans


By: Elizabeth Obigwe. Freelance Writer, with editorial support and medical review by the DLHA Team


Glaucoma awareness poster



Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that affect the nerve (optic) carrying information from the eyes into the brain. The condition is dangerous because there are no symptoms in the early stage and the damage it causes is irreversible. Hence, early diagnosis and treatment are the best way to save your vision. 


Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision impairment according to the WHO.  Yet, many people in Africa who have this condition do not know that they do until it is too late.


Below are five important facts you need to know about this condition to help you protect your eye health.



1. Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in Africa

The WHO says that 7.7 million cases of glaucoma globally could have been prevented or are yet to be addressed. In Africa,  glaucoma accounts for 15% of blindness. 6 million Africans are estimated to be affected with the disorder and about half a million are already blind from it.


2. Damage caused by glaucoma to the nerve of the eye is irreversible

Glaucoma happens when your optic nerve is damaged mainly due to an increased pressure within your eyeball above 21mmHg. It could also be a result of other factors which are still unclear. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying messages from the eye to the brain, hence, damage to it will affect your vision and it is irreversible.


3. Glaucoma is not preventable but its impact on vision can be managed with early detection

Since the primary cause of glaucoma is unknown, there are no known preventions or cures. However, there are treatments to manage it and prevent further progression. Early detection is the key to better eye health from glaucoma.


4. A family history of glaucoma is one of several risk factors 

If a member of your family has glaucoma, it increases your chances of suffering from it too. However, you can still develop glaucoma even if nobody in your family has it. Hence, getting your eyes checked regularly is important, especially if you are at risk.

Other risk factors include being: 

  • Older than 55 years
  • African, Hispanic and Asian
  • Shortsighted or have other eye problems
  • A candidate for non-communicable systemic disorders like diabetes, hypertension, vasospasm, and acute hypotension. 


5. Glaucoma may cause no symptoms in the early stage, so regular and routine eye exams will save your vision 

When you start to develop glaucoma, you may not notice any symptoms in its early stage. However, if you notice symptoms like severe eye pain, eye redness, blurred vision, halos or coloured rings around lights, or severe headaches, see a doctor immediately.



Learn more about Glaucoma, The Silent Thief of Vision



World Health Organization (WHO). Vision Impairment and blindness. [Internet. 10 Aug. 2023]; [cited  2024 Jan 24]. Available from:



Published: January 24, 2024

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