What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that affects the optic nerve fibres, resulting in permanent vision loss.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Most types of glaucoma have no symptoms at first. There is no pain and vision appears normal. But as the disease progresses, people with glaucoma will slowly lose peripheral (or side vision), resulting in tunnel vision. In the final stages of the disease the central vision will be lost.
Patients with angle closure glaucoma will experience noticeable symptoms such as blurred vision, severe eye pain, ache, halos around lights, nausea and vomiting. This form of the disease is rare but can result in blindness so it’s important that anyone with any of these symptoms contact an ophthalmologist quickly.
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Ophthalmologists diagnose glaucoma by measuring the pressure inside the eye, by examining the optic nerve at the back of the eye using a technique called ophthalmoscopy, and by performing a visual field test.
How is glaucoma treated?
At present there is no cure for glaucoma. However, your ophthalmologist can slow down the progression of the disease and prevent further loss of your vision.
Eye drops are the most common form of treatment and must be used regularly to be effective. There are many different type of eye drops used in the management of glaucoma and your ophthalmologist will prescribe what’s best for you. In rare cases oral medication may also be prescribed.
When eye drops fail to stop vision loss, laser treatment in the form of laser trabeculoplasty is used. Laser is performed in the consulting rooms and does not require a hospital stay.
When eye drops and laser treatment fail to control eye pressure, surgery known as a trabeculectomy can be performed. While this treatment will save remaining vision it does not improve sight.