Glaucoma is the loss of vision due to damage of the optic nerve, which carries sight images to the brain. The disease is a leading cause of blindness and is incurable. Blindness, however, can be prevented if the disease is diagnosed and treated early. There are several different types of glaucoma, including open-angle glaucoma, closed-angle glaucoma and congenital glaucoma.
Open-angle, or chronic, glaucoma is the most common form of the disease and slowly develops in both eyes with no symptoms of redness or eye pain. Closed-angle, or acute, glaucoma on the other hand, develops suddenly in one eye and causes redness, pain and blurred vision. Congenital glaucoma, or buphthalmos, is a form of the disease present from birth.
Glaucoma is often caused by high pressure inside the eye, which can cause damage to the optic nerve. This pressure can be related to diabetes, nearsightedness and farsightedness, prolonged use of eye drops and even injury. Glaucoma is also hereditary, and more common in people over the age of 60.
Although symptoms of glaucoma can largely go undetected, more developed forms of the disease can start to present themselves as blind spots in the peripheral vision, eye pain, blurred vision and headaches.
Eye specialists at Somerset Eye will first test a patient for glaucoma using simple, pain-free methods to determine the pressure in their eyes. A few special investigations will also be performed such as a gonioscopy, optic nerve assessment and fundus photograph. The results of these tests will help Somerset Eye’s specialists decide how to treat the glaucoma.
In some cases, drops and medicine can be used stabilise glaucoma by either bringing eye pressure down or minimizing the amount of fluid produced in the eye. Patients will be able to manage the disease with regular check-ups. Any sight that has been lost, however, cannot be regained.
There are also several surgical treatments for glaucoma, including a trabeculectomy, laser trabeculoplasty and drainage. During a trabeculectomy, the eye specialist will make a hole in the white of the eye and remove some of the eye’s trabecular tissue to reduce pressure. In laser trabeculoplasty, the doctor will use a small laser to open blockages in the trabecular tissue of the eye. An ophthalmologist can also drain fluid from the eye to help patients suffering from glaucoma.
Although a diagnosis of glaucoma is not life-threatening, it can affect your quality of life by causing severe vision loss.
This is a short procedure that takes about 5 minutes to complete for each eye.
You will take up to six weeks to heal from this procedure.