Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of sight loss in the world and covers a number of conditions that cause damage to the optic nerve, which links the eye to the brain. Research shows that approximately 2% of the population over 40 have the condition.
Causes of glaucoma
It’s common for glaucoma to be linked to high eye pressure, which is why we test the pressure in your eyes when you come for an eye examination. Pressure can rise in the eye when fluid that helps the eye hold its shape doesn’t drain away fast enough, squeezing the optic nerve. As with many eye conditions, glaucoma becomes more of a risk as you age. You may also be more at risk of developing it if a close relative has glaucoma.
Types of glaucoma
Primary open angle
Primary open angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma. It develops slowly over many years as the eye’s drainage channels become blocked, and is associated with old age.
This rare type of glaucoma can develop either slowly or very fast, with eye pressure rising suddenly, putting the optic nerve at great risk.
Secondary glaucoma occurs because of another condition. This could be an eye injury, a side effect of medication, or an underlying eye condition such as uveitis.
It’s common for glaucoma to show no symptoms in its early stages. When symptoms do occur, they can include:
- sudden, severe eye pain
- blurred vision starting with your peripheral vision
- seeing halos around bright lights
The damage caused to the optic nerve is irreparable, which is why it’s so important to have regular eye exams. If we spot the signs early enough, there is a better chance we’ll be able to provide treatment and prevent further sight loss.
Early signs of glaucoma can be spotted with our Optomap or OCT scans, which is why we always encourage including these retinal scans as part of your comprehensive eye exam.
Glaucoma treatment depends on the type and cause, but eye drops are most commonly used to reduce the pressure in the eye. Laser treatment is sometimes required to lower eye pressure, and occasionally, surgery to improve fluid drainage will be needed.
If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma you could benefit from our joining Eyecare Plan. From just £10 a month, you’ll get unlimited eye exams and retinal scans to regularly monitor your condition and give you peace of mind.