We’re taking a closer look at glaucoma and how it can affect vision as part of our ‘in focus’ series.
Did you know that glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in the UK?
What is glaucoma?
The optic nerve transmits visual information from your eye to your brain to process.
A regular sight test can detect and diagnose glaucoma, which is why it’s important to attend your regular sight test.
How does glaucoma affect vision?
Glaucoma affects the peripheral field of vision first.
The condition can create a ‘tunnel effect’ in your vision and it can become difficult to read, drive and safely navigate the world around you.
The damage can also lead to an eventual loss of central vision if left untreated, but blindness is rare.
Vision deteriorates slower with the most common type of glaucoma, primary angle open glaucoma.
What causes the condition?
Damage occurs to the optic nerve when there is too much or too little pressure at the back of the eye.
Unfortunately, any damage to vision is irreversible as the optic nerve’s fibres can’t regenerate themselves.
Early detection of the condition allows for monitoring and treatment to help delay progression and prevent further sight loss.
The good news is that lowering eye pressure and using drops can help treat glaucoma.
It’s vital to attend your regular sight test and to take care of your eyes between visits to the optician to help you to see better and live better for longer.
What are the types of glaucoma?
There are 4 main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, secondary glaucoma and congenital glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma progresses slowly and is the most common type of the condition.
Angle-closure glaucoma is a rare type of glaucoma, occurring slowly (chronic) or rapidly (acute) with pressure painfully building-up in the eye.
Secondary glaucoma is the result of another eye condition like uveitis (inflammation of the eye’s middle layer).
Congenital glaucoma is a rare (sometimes inherited) form of the condition resulting from developmental issues of the eye’s drainage system. This type of glaucoma is typically diagnosed by the age of 1.
Keep an eye out for the symptoms
This closer look at glaucoma highlights the need for a regular sight test to assist early detection of the condition.
There are usually no warning signs for the most common type of glaucoma (primary open-angle), so a regular sight test is a must.
On the other hand, pain and redness of the eyes can indicate a different form of glaucoma.
If you experience these symptoms or have a family history of glaucoma, you should visit your local optician.
Remember, early detection of glaucoma can help delay progression and preserve your sight.