Patient Information

GLAUCOMA   

Glaucoma is one of the world’s leading causes of preventable blindness. It is an eye disease which damages optic nerve.

The optic nerve relays sight to the brain; any damage to the nerve results in damage to the sight. The damage occurs due to a raised pressure inside the eye.

 If diagnosed early, most cases can be stabilized with treatment.

Certain populations are known to be at a higher risk and should have their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist at least annually:

 
 
  • Relatives of someone diagnosed with glaucoma
  • Afro-Caribbean
  • People with severe myopia (short-sighted)
  • Previous injuries
 
  

 

 

 

 

  

 

Diagnosis

Glaucoma damages the peripheral (outside) visual field. You will not notice any change in your vision until the late stages of irreversible damage. An ophthalmologist will perform several tests to diagnose and monitor glaucoma. The tests are simple and pain free:

a) Measures the pressure in the eye (tonometry)

b) Gonioscopy (special view of the inside of the eye)

c) Optic nerve examination- drops will be instilled that makes the pupil bigger then the eye is examined.

d) Visual field test (perimetry) - the visual field is the range of sight. The tests identifies any damaged areas

e) Measures the corneal thickness (pachymetry).

Treatment

Glaucoma can be treated but not cured. The aim is to reduce the pressure in the eye and prevent further damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. Monitoring and treatment must be continued throughout life. Treatment options are:

a) Drops- putting drops properly and as prescribed by your ophthalmologist is essential to try to prevent any further harm. Often drops needs to be changed to maintain good vision.

b) Tablets- Diamox (acetazolamide) may be given to patients if deemed necessary.

c) Laser- a specialized light beam can be used to help to reduce pressure in the eye.

d) Surgery – the most common surgery is called trabeculectomy.It is necessary if drops are not effective. The ophthalmologist creates a microscopic valve inside the eye. Modern glaucoma surgery is safe and pain free. Your ophthalmologist will discuss other options. It is imperative that you follow the course of treatment given to you; if not you risk further loss of vision.

 
 
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