Known as the “silent thief of vision”, glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve, first affecting your peripheral vision, and potentially leading to complete loss of vision in the affected eye if left untreated. Age is the biggest risk factor, along with a strong family history of glaucoma with immediate family members, and if you are short sighted and have a high prescription.
It can be caused by an increase in eye pressure or a weakness in the optic nerve. While the damage is irreversible, there are a variety of treatment options available to patients to manage this condition.
The most common types of glaucoma are:
- Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), which is more prevalent in older people. This can take many years to develop, and the main cause of this type of glaucoma is where the eye’s drainage channels gradually become blocked.
- Acute angle closure glaucoma, also known as closed angle glaucoma happens when eye pressure rises very suddenly, potentially leading to acute damage to the optic nerve. It is a lot less common than POAG.
- Secondary glaucoma typically occurs due to something else going on in the body or eyes, such as a side-effect from certain medications, another underlying eye condition like uveitis (inflammation of the eye), or an eye injury.
Symptoms and detection
In some cases of glaucoma there are no obvious symptoms. With chronic glaucoma, eye pressure rises so slowly that most people don’t notice any symptoms for years. Acute glaucoma, however, is very different and can result in severe pain due to a sudden rise in eye pressure.
It’s important to have regular eye examinations so your optometrist can view your optic nerve, measure your eye pressure, investigate your field of vision and even scan your retina to detect any changes to your eyes and request further testing if required.
Our state of the art OCT scan [link to retinal imaging page] is especially designed for early glaucoma diagnosis, enabling us to easily and painlessly detect and monitor the condition by taking a detailed cross sectional image of the back of the eye. This allows us to determine how much the condition has progressed and make an immediate plan of action in terms of what treatment is required to prevent further deterioration.
Early diagnosis is key to treating diseases like glaucoma. Although existing damage can’t be undone, steps can be taken to minimise further damage.
The most common treatment for chronic glaucoma is eye drops that reduce the amount of pressure, however, in some cases laser treatment or a small operation may be required. If you do need further treatment, our optometrist will talk you through your options and advise the best course of action for you.
Acute glaucoma needs to be treated immediately to avoid permanent sight loss and you will immediately be referred to your local emergency eye clinic.