What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a condition in which there is progressive damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye. The optic nerve is vitally important as it carries our vision back to the brain so that we can see. Glaucoma is often unnoticed initially, as it tends to affect peripheral vision first. There is also an increased risk of glaucoma in patients with a family history of the disease.

For reasons we don’t fully understand, glaucoma seems to be related to the pressure inside the eye, and for people with glaucoma, lowering the pressure in the eye can slow the progression of the disease. Everybody’s eyes are different, and what can be a normal pressure for one person, may be too high for another.

How is Glaucoma diagnosed?

Glaucoma does not produce symptoms until late in the disease, often when significant damage has already occurred to the optic nerve. As this damage is irreversible, it is very important for glaucoma to be diagnosed early. Everyone over the age of 40 should have their eye pressures checked and optic nerves examined regularly, particularly if there is a family history of the disease.

Along with other factors, the assessment of three key features will assist Dr Raj in diagnosing glaucoma. Measurements of intraocular pressure, especially over several occasions, are very helpful in determining what is the ‘right’ pressure for your eye. The appearance of your optic nerves may also suggest glaucoma, as characteristic damage can occur over time. Finally, the visual field test, which tests how the optic nerve is functioning, can also provide evidence of glaucoma, and is very useful for monitoring your condition over time.

How is Glaucoma treated?

The primary goal in glaucoma is to lower the pressure in the eye. Different methods are available to do this, including eye drops, laser and surgery. Dr Raj will recommend which treatment is appropriate for you, and will take the time to explain the pros and cons of each treatment with you.

Can Glaucoma be cured?

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for this condition. However, with ongoing monitoring and treatment, we can slow the progression of glaucoma down and often stabilise the disease, preventing significant vision loss. If you have a diagnosis of glaucoma, it is important to encourage your children and relatives to be checked, as glaucoma does tend to run in families.