Glaucoma can refer to a number of eye conditions associated with damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. Often characterised by a raised level of intraocular pressure, glaucoma varies in severity from patient to patient.
Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of blindness, but can sometimes be difficult to identify. This is because the loss of vision develops gradually over time and can sometimes only be spotted when the disease becomes advanced. That’s why it’s important for patients who suspect they may have glaucoma to have their eyes tested by a professional, and catch the damage to their vision while it is still treatable.
The loss of vision caused by glaucoma is irreversible, but with early treatment the damage can be minimised and its progression slowed. As with other eye conditions, such as AMD, older people are more susceptible to developing glaucoma. The condition affects one in 10 people over the age of 80, compared to one in 200 people under the age of 50. People who suffer from glaucoma are also more likely to suffer from other eye conditions such as myopia.
There are two main types of glaucoma – termed open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma, both affect people in very different ways.
Open-angle glaucoma: The most common form of glaucoma, the loss of vision is gradual and does not result in pain or acute attacks.
Closed-angle glaucoma: Characterised by a more sudden and painful loss of vision, which can also cause nausea and vomiting as well as visual symptoms, such as halos around lights. Closed-angle glaucoma accounts for less than 10% of glaucoma cases in the UK and Ireland, but is more common in Asia and other parts of the world.
Because glaucoma causes permanent damage to vision, its effects cannot be reversed – however, early treatment can slow its progress or stop it becoming worse.
Glaucoma can be effectively treated with eye drops, which help lower the pressure on the retina and prevent build-up of fluid in the eyes. Eye drops can help alleviate the effects of glaucoma for all patients, but are particularly important for patients with advanced glaucoma or especially high pressure.
If you have glaucoma and wish to seek the best options available for treatment, you can book a free consultation with one of our leading surgeons who will identify the best treatment for you.
If you wish to seek help understanding your prescription, our eye prescription explained section may answer your questions.