Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is damaged. This process progresses very slowly and destroys vision gradually, starting with the peripheral (side) vision.
It is a major cause of sight loss in Australia, and it is as common as diabetes.
About 3% of Australians have glaucoma but, because there are generally no warning signs, only about half of them have been diagnosed. One of the most sinister characteristics of glaucoma is that a person with glaucoma is unaware of any visual problems until a majority of nerve fibres have been irreversibly damaged. This is why we encourage everyone to undertake a comprehensive eye check every two years. The tests for glaucoma are simple and painless.
In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye – a result of blockage of the circulation of the aqueous, or its drainage. In other patients the damage may be caused by poor blood supply to the vital optic nerve fibres, a weakness in the structure of the nerve, and/or a problem in the health of the nerve fibre themselves.
Who is at Risk?
Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people have a higher risk. Those with:
What are the symptoms?
Glaucoma has no symptoms until around 40% of the optic nerve fibres are damaged. This damage is irreversible, it is progressive and usually relentless. Treatment cannot recover what has been lost, but it can arrest, or at least, slow down the damage process. That is why it is so important to detect the problem as early as possible.
How is glaucoma detected?
Regular eye examinations are the best way to detect glaucoma early.
A glaucoma test may include all or some of the following:
There is no one test which is diagnostic for glaucoma and in most cases the doctor will rely on all of the above information when deciding when to treat.
Can glaucoma be treated?
Although there is no cure for glaucoma it can usually be controlled and further loss of sight either prevented or at least slowed down.
Treatment can save remaining vision but it does not improve eye sight.
For more information Contact Specialeyes.