Glaucoma is one of the most common vision threatening conditions seen in Australia. Glaucoma most commonly affects those over the age of 50, but there are even some forms that newborns, children and younger adults.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease process that affects the optic nerve. This characteristically causes the loss of peripheral vision, leading in more severe cases to tunnel vision, or even blindness. Glaucoma is often associated with elevated pressure within the eye, though this is not always the case.
What symptoms does glaucoma cause?
In more extreme forms, glaucoma may cause blurred vision, haloes and even vision loss. Sudden onset glaucoma may be extremely painful, and be associated with nausea and vomiting.
More often however, Glaucoma is completely asymptomatic, and is only discovered on routine screening with your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Only very late in the disease, when irreversible damage has been done, may patients develop symptoms.
For this reason, everyone over the age of 50 should have their eyes checked routinely by their eyecare practitioner.
How is glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma is treated by a number of techniques which aim to reduce pressure within the eye. Treatment may take the form of regular eye drops, laser treatment or even surgery.
Once a diagnosis of glaucoma is made, patients begin a program of regular checks with their ophthalmologist to ensure their eye pressure is adequately controlled and to monitor for signs of progression.
Patients will have their peripheral vision monitored using an automated system, as well as optical coherence tomography (OCT) which uses a laser to measure structure.