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What Is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, the health of which is vital for good vision. This damage is sometimes (but not always) caused by an abnormally high pressure in your eye.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for people over the age of 60. It can occur at any age but is more common in older adults.

Glaucoma Symptoms

The most common forms of glaucoma have no warning signs. The effect is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage. This is one of many reasons that regular eye examinations are so vital. In the past one of the most important tests for glaucoma was a visual field test (clicking a button when you see tiny dots on a screen). With the more modern OCT (optical coherence tomography) testing that we do as standard, glaucoma can be picked up years earlier than with fields testing.

Advanced open-angle glaucoma

  • Blind spots in your peripheral or central vision, frequently in both eyes.

  • Eventually, tunnel vision

Acute closed-angle glaucoma                     

  • Severe headache

  • Eye pain

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Blurred vision

  • Red eyes

  • Halos around lights

Glaucoma Causes

Even now glaucoma is not well understood as a disease. We do know that glaucoma often runs in families.

Glaucoma is the result of damage to the optic nerve (which connects the brain to the eye). As this nerve gradually deteriorates, blind spots develop in your visual field. For reasons that science doesn't fully understand, this nerve damage is sometimes related to increased pressure in the eye.

Risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Family history of glaucoma (especially a sibling)

  • Over 60 years of age

  • Having high internal eye pressure

  • African-Caribbean descent (open-angle)

  • Asian descent (closed-angle)

  • Long term steroid use

  • Being very short-sighted (open-angle)

  • Being very long-sighted (closed-angle)


Glaucoma Treatment

Treatment is very much dependent on the type of glaucoma present. Most patients with open-angle glaucoma are treated with eye drops. Many people with closed-angle glaucoma are treated with laser.

Glaucoma OCT results
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