What it Glaucoma
- Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that generally results in gradual loss of peripheral vision.
- Because it gradually steals the peripheral vision over years or decades you may not notice you have glaucoma until it is very advanced.
the sneak thief of sight
- Unfortunately the optic nerve has no ability to regenerate and glaucoma damage can never be reversed.
- Damage can only be prevented making early diagnosis and management critical.
- The only way to slow the damage caused by glaucoma is to lower the pressure in the eye.
Types of Glaucoma
- Open angle glaucoma: the optic nerve is damaged and the pressure in the eye must be lowered to minimize further damage. This is by far the most common form of glaucoma in Australia.
- Angle Closure: the drainage pathway is being blocked leading to elevated pressure that may predispose to glaucoma. Laser or surgery can be used to treat this condition.
- Acute glaucoma: is a rapid and extreme elevation in eye pressure that can lead to blindness within hours. It is very painful and requires urgent treatment at your nearest emergency department.
- Diagnosis of glaucoma can be very difficult in the early stages and can only be made by your ophthalmologist.
- Everyone over the age of 50 should see their optometrist on a regular basis. If your optometrist suspects glaucoma they will refer you to an ophthalmologist to establish a diagnosis.
- If you have a relative with glaucoma you should see your optometrist from the age of 40 as you are 8 times more likely to get glaucoma.
- If you have glaucoma encourage your relatives to see their optometrist to get checked.
- There is no cure for glaucoma but it can be managed effectively and the vast majority of vision loss can be avoided.
- The key is early diagnosis of those at risk of vision loss.
- The only effective treatment is to lower the pressure in the eye.
- This is done by:
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness world-wide. Over 300,000 Australians have been diagnosed with glaucoma this will increase to 425,000 by 2025.