What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a chronic disease that causes progressive, irreversible damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is the main supply of visual information from the eye to the brain where it is processed and interpreted. High intraocular pressure (IOP) is a major risk factor for glaucoma. However some patients may have features of glaucoma despite normal intraocular pressure. This condition is known as normal-tension glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause progressive tunnel vision and eventually blindness. It is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

What causes Glaucoma?

There is good evidence that there is a genetic component to the development of glaucoma. A number of genes implicated in the pathogenesis of glaucoma have been identified in recent years. Those people with a first degree relative who has been diagnosed with glaucoma should have their eyes regularly screened for this condition.

As mentioned earlier, high intraocular pressure is the major risk factor for the development of glaucoma. Other factors such as a thin central cornea may also play a role. There are numerous secondary causes of glaucoma, including a history of blunt ocular trauma among others. Our specialists can discuss this with you further.

How is Glaucoma diagnosed?

There is no single test to diagnose glaucoma. Rather, a combination of tests and investigations are needed. These can include measures of the central cornea thickness, IOP measurement, clinical optic nerve assessment, peripheral visual field testing, and optical coherence tomography (OCT) to evaluate the retinal nerve fibre layer thickness. Our specialists use these various parameters to detect early signs of glaucoma and recommend treatment at an early stage, before significant irreversible damage occurs.

How is Glaucoma treated?

The aim of treatment for glaucoma is to reduce the rate of progression of the disease, and to maintain good vision throughout the patient’s life. Treatment may be in the form of eye drops to lower the intraocular pressure, laser treatment, surgery, or a combination of these options. Unfortunately, once vision has been lost from glaucoma it cannot be restored, so early diagnosis and treatment is imperative. Our specialists will individualise your care and recommend the treatment most suited for your case.