In line with National Glaucoma awareness month in January, here LaserVision present all you need to know about the condition which is one of the leading causes of blindness in the UK.
There can be no symptoms of Glaucoma in adults until sight has deteriorated significantly, reinforcing the points made in our previous post as to the importance of regular eye tests to detect this serious condition. But in some cases, symptoms can vary from intense pain, redness of the eye, headache, tender eye area, seeing rings around lights and misty vision to quick loss of vision. These symptoms may not be constant, so if you are unsure, make an appt to see your eye doctor or optometrist as soon as possible.
Symptoms of developmental glaucoma within babies and children can be large eyes (due to pressure), light sensitivity, watery eyes, erratic movement of the eyes, eyes having a cloudy appearance or even having a squint, causing one eye to turn inwards.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma describes a group of eye conditions that often affects both eyes when the drainage tubes of the eyes become slightly blocked, preventing the eye fluid from draining, thus causing intraocular pressure. This pressure can then damage the optic nerve and nerve fibres resulting in irreversible vision loss.
There are four types of glaucoma:
- Chronic open-angle glaucoma – the most common type of glaucoma which develops very slowly.
- Primary angle-closure glaucoma – the rare form of glaucoma which can occur slowly (chronic) or may develop rapidly (acute) with a sudden, painful build-up of pressure in the eye.
- Secondary glaucoma – this occurs as a result of an eye injury or another eye condition.
- Developmental glaucoma (congenital glaucoma) – a rare but serious form of glaucoma which is usually present at birth or develops shortly after birth. It is caused by an abnormality of the eye.
- Age. People aged 40years and over are more at risk to glaucoma than younger age groups.
- Ethnic origin. People of African or Afro-Caribbean origin are at increased risk of developing the condition. People of Asian origin are at increased risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma.
- Short sightedness (myopia). People who are short-sighted are more likely to develop chronic open-angle glaucoma.
- Ocular hypertension (OHT – raised pressure in the eye). People with OHT are at increased risk of developing chronic open-angle glaucoma.
- Family history. If glaucoma is present within your immediate family, you are of greater risk of developing the condition.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes may be at increased risk of developing glaucoma.
As glaucoma develops slowly, it is important to have regular eye examinations where your optometrist can carry out several different tests for the condition which are listed below.
- Eye Pressure Test
- Central Corneal Thickness Test
- Visual Field Test
- Optic Nerve Assessment
If glaucoma is suspected, you will be referred to ophthalmologist where further tests will be carried out to confirm diagnosis and advise on treatment.
Any damage already done by glaucoma cannot be reversed or repaired, making early diagnosis essential.
There are many treatment options to help reduce the intraocular pressure within the eye including:
- Eye Drops
- Beta Blockers
- Laser Treatment