What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is actually a group of eye conditions affecting up to 10 % of the adult population. A common factor is that the pressure within the eye – the intra-ocular pressue or IOP – is at a level sufficient enough to damage the signals between the retina and brain that allow us to see, and vision can be lost. This is known as optic nerve damage. Some people seem susceptible to this damage more than others, but in most cases it is because the IOP is too high. Read more about Glaucoma on the NHS website.
What are the symptoms of Glaucoma?
Most glaucoma comes on very gradually over time, so you may not notice any of the subtle changes in your vision. You may only notice hazy areas in your vision when significant damage has already occurred. This is why it is very important to have regular eye examinations – your optometrist can easily check for early signs of glaucoma and refer you to a specialist for treatment.
Acute glaucoma is rarer and presents differently, Sudden, large rises in the IOP can be very painful and you would be more likely to notice you had a problem due to severe headache, nausea and photophobia (sensitivity to bright lights), with perhaps hazy vision. Urgent treatment of acute glaucoma is essential to avoid permanent damage to the optic nerve.
How do you treat Glaucoma?
The purpose of treatment is to avoid sight loss. Glaucoma is frequently treated with eye drops to reduce the IOP, but there are also surgical options when drops are insufficient or surgery is preferable. There are several types of eye drops that can be prescribed, to be used alone or in combination. It is very important to use glaucoma medication regularly and as instructed by your doctor. If you have difficulties applying your eye drops, speak to your doctor, optometrist or pharmacist for advice.
Treated early, glaucoma is generally a manageable condition and most people avoid significant sight loss in their lifetime, but they need regular check-ups with glaucoma specialists.