What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye diseases in which the optic nerve at the back of the eye is slowly destroyed. In most people this damage is due to an increased pressure inside the eye - a result of blockage of the circulation of 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 fibres themselves.

Over 300,000 Australians have glaucoma. While it is more common as people age, it can occur at any age. As our population becomes older, the proportion of glaucoma patients is increasing.

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can get glaucoma, some people have a higher risk, those with

  • Family history of Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Migraine
  • Short sightedness (myopia)
  • Eye injuries
  • Blood pressure
  • Past or present use of cortisone drugs (steroids)

People in these groups should have their first eye check no later than the age of 35. For most people, it is recommended to have an eye check for glaucoma by the age of 40.

How is Glaucoma detected?

Regular eye examinations are the best way to detect glaucoma early. A glaucoma test usually includes the following:

  • Optic nerve check with an ophthalmoscope
  • Eye pressure check (tonometry) 
  • Visual field assessment if needed - this tests the sensitivity of the side vision, where glaucoma strikes first

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.

Treatments include:

Eyedrops - these are the most common form of treatment and must be used regularly. In some cases pills are prescribed. The drops can be varied to best suit the patient and the type of glaucoma.

Laser (laser trabeculoplasty) - this is performed when eye drops do not stop deterioration in the field of vision. In many cases eye drops will need to be continued after laser. Laser does not require a hospital stay.

Surgery (trabeculectomy) - this is performed usually after eye drops and laser have failed to control the eye pressure. A new channel for the fluid to leave the eye is created.

Treatment can save remaining vision but it does not improve eye sight.

For futher information please go to the Glaucoma Australia website or make an Appointment today with Sallyanne, Josh or Donna for your Glaucoma assessment phone 1300 EYE 000.