TAGS: #blindness #Eye drops #glaucoma #looking after your eyes #National Glaucoma Week 2018 #routine eye examinations #What is glaucoma?
National Glaucoma Week, 4th – 10th June.
Did you know glaucoma often has no symptoms but can lead to blindness? It’s estimated the condition affects up to 800,000 people in the UK, but that 50% of cases remain undiagnosed. Most people say sight is the sense they’d least like to lose. However, many still don’t visit an optician until something goes wrong. And with glaucoma, once any sight is lost, it cannot be saved.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of conditions that can damage the optic nerve, the part of the eye which connects to the brain. It’s often caused by a buildup of fluid in the front part of the eye, which increases pressure inside the eye. Your eye needs a certain amount of pressure to keep the eyeball healthy and in the right shape. However, if the pressure becomes too high, it can cause your optic nerve to become damaged leading to loss of vision.
Glaucoma tends to develop slowly over many years. To begin with it doesn’t usually cause any symptoms other than a gradual loss of peripheral vision. Because many people don’t realise they have glaucoma until their sight is permanently affected, it’s known as the ‘silent thief of sight’. However, with early diagnosis, careful monitoring and the right treatment, most people retain useful sight for life.
A regular routine eye examination can detect glaucoma. We use three quick and painless tests to check for it:
- We look at the appearance of the optic nerve in your eye (ophthalmoscopy)
- We measure the pressure in your eye (tonometry)
- We check your field of vision (perimetry)
Recent statistics suggest that glaucoma affects around 2 in every 100 people over the age of 40, rising to almost 1 in 10 in people over 75.
Therefore, we recommend that everyone over the age of 40 has an eye test every two years. This is particularly important if you: have a close relative with glaucoma; are African Caribbean or Asian; diabetic; have low blood pressure; or are short sighted, as these groups are all at greater risk of glaucoma.
Types of Glaucoma
There are different types of glaucoma. The four main ones are:
Primary open angle glaucoma (POAG)
Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma accounting for almost 90% of cases. It is caused when the eye’s drainage canals become slowly blocked. This results in increased eye pressure which causes damage to the optic nerve. It is a lifelong condition that develops very slowly over time.
Acute angle closure glaucoma
Acute angle glaucoma happens when the pressure in your eye rises suddenly. It’s very painful and can cause permanent damage to your sight if not treated quickly.
This is when glaucoma occurs because of another eye condition, an operation, an injury or as a side effect of medication.
Congenital glaucoma is a very rare condition that affects young babies. It’s usually diagnosed in early years and is then managed by specialist clinics.
The aim of all glaucoma treatments is to lower your eye pressure. Treatment usually starts with eye drops. For many people, who use the eye drops as prescribed and continue to have regular checkups, this is all they need to manage their condition.
However, some people do need further treatment to prevent any loss of sight. This may be laser treatment or surgery. If this is the case for you, we’ll refer you to an ophthalmologist (hospital eye doctor).
If you’re concerned about glaucoma, please call us to book an appointment.
Our expert opticians use the latest ophthalmic equipment to detect eye conditions including a hospital grade OCT that scans the back of your eye to allow us to detect early stages of glaucoma and help you manage the health of your eyes. And, if you already have or are at risk of having glaucoma, for instance family history, you may be eligible for a free examination under the NHS.
To book an appointment please call us on 0118 981 0267
For more information, take a look at these helpful links and guides to glaucoma:
The International Glaucoma Association