Glaucoma is a very common eye condition and one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the U.K. By being aware of it, we can detect it early and therefore reduce its impact. Generally described as damage to the optic nerve, glaucoma is usually associated with excessive pressure within the eye.

The people most at risk are; those aged 40 plus, have dark pigmented irises, short sightedness, history of eye injury and particularly those with a family history of glaucoma.

As there are virtually no symptoms in the early stages, it is important to have a regular check up every two years with your optician. This would involve a 3D analysis of the optic nerve head by pupil dilation, a peripheral visual field assessment, and an internal eye pressure test.

Glaucoma can be treated mainly by using eye drops every day. This will slow down production of the Intraocular fluid and prevent further vision loss. Also laser surgery can be used to partially open the outflow drainage channels. In the case of an emergency (acute glaucoma), an opening is created in the iris for easy and direct outflow. Both treatments will arrest its progression but not reverse it, as unfortunately there is no cure for the damage already done.

Thankfully World Glaucoma Day is marked on the calendar each year to bring forward that awareness and prompt the move towards good eye health and the importance of regular check ups.

Noel McCrystal
BSc.(Hons.)MCOptom.Dip.Sc.V MASv.P

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