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In focus: Glaucoma

Identify 'tunnel' vision earlier

For our ‘in focus’ blogs, we’ll be taking a closer look into serious eye conditions, how they can affect your vision and some tips to help preserve your vision for longer.

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged and causes loss of vision.

It’s the leading cause of preventable sight loss and about 2% of the UK’s population over 40 have the condition.

So, how is glaucoma caused?

The optic nerve carries sight images to the brain and any damage to the nerve results in damage to sight.

For the eye to work properly, a certain level of pressure is needed for the eye to keep the eye’s shape and if the eye pressure gets too high it squeezes the optic nerve and kills some of its nerve fibres, which leads to sight loss.

The build-up of pressure is usually, but not always, the cause of the condition.

What effect can glaucoma have on vision?

Peripheral vision is the first visual field to be affected and can progress to tunnel vision.

If left untreated, the damage can lead to an eventual loss of central vision, but blindness is rare.

There are 4 main types of glaucoma: primary open angle glaucoma, primary angle closure glaucoma, secondary glaucoma and congenital glaucoma.

Vision deteriorates slower with the most common type of glaucoma, primary angle open glaucoma.

Can you prevent glaucoma?

A regular sight test can identify and monitor glaucoma (and other conditions!).

The earlier it’s identified, the earlier it can be stabilised with careful monitoring and regular treatment before further damage to vision is caused.

Because any vision that has been lost to glaucoma cannot be recovered, early diagnosis is crucial to preserve as much vision as possible for longer and enable an individual to live a fulfilled life.

While there are usually no warning signs for primary angle open glaucoma, pain and redness of the eyes can indicate a different form of glaucoma.

If you begin to experience these symptoms or are due your regular sight test, you should visit your local opticians.

Remember, early identification of glaucoma or any symptoms can help to prevent progression of the condition and preserve sight, enabling you to see better and live better for longer!

To see more about tell-tale signs for needing a sight test, click here.