What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a very common eye condition that can be easily treated if caught in the early stages.
Your eyes are filled with fluid that is continually being produced and then drained. If the fluid does not drain properly then the pressure on the back of the eye builds up, causing nerve damage and leading to Glaucoma.This damage may also occur if the fluid drainage and pressure is normal, but the nerves are weak.
Some people are more likely to suffer from Glaucoma than others:
• People with a family history of the condition
• Older people – 5% of people over the age of 65 develop Glaucoma
• People from an Afro-Caribbean background
• Very short or long sighted people
How do I know if I have a problem?
There are two sorts of Glaucoma – chronic and acute Glaucoma.
• Chronic Glaucoma is the more common type and people suffering from it often do not realise they have a problem, making it important that you have regular eye checks, especially as you get older. Some people, however, find that their vision worsens in one eye eventually leading to tunnel vision, as the centre of vision is the last part to be affected
• Acute Glaucoma is much less common and can occur suddenly when there is a complete blockage of the fluid. As it happens very quickly it can be painful and may induce nausea and vomiting
What treatment is available?
Treatment for chronic Glaucoma is extremely effective when the condition is caught in the early stages. Eye drops are the most common treatment and work by reducing the amount of fluid in the eye and improving drainage. Tablets, laser treatment and surgery may also be recommended, especially if the condition is more advanced.
Acute Glaucoma is more serious and requires immediate treatment in hospital. Drugs will be given to reduce the pressure and any pain, and laser treatment or minor surgery will usually be required. The treatment is painless and treating both eyes at the same time is often recommended to stop the condition developing in the other eye.
How do I get help?
If you are worried you may have Glaucoma you should visit your Optometrist or Doctor at the earliest opportunity.