What is glaucoma?

There are various definitions of Glaucoma. It is best defined as;  "A progressive loss of Optic Nerve function, sometimes but not always, in the presence of raised Intra-ocular pressure."

The increase of pressure usually happens when the very fine passages that normally allow fluid in your eyes to drain away become narrowed or blocked.

There can be strong hereditary component to the risk of Glaucoma, so do ask your parents, grandparents and relatives about their eye health. Know your inheritance well.

Types of Glaucoma

The most common type, (Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma), develops gradually and painlessly without symptoms in the early stages. Severe loss of peripheral vision may occur before the sufferer realises there is a problem.

A rarer type, (Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma), occurs more rapidly and its symptoms may include blurred vision, loss of side vision, seeing coloured rings around lights and pain or redness in the eyes.

Other types include Normal-Tension Glaucoma, Pigmentary Glaucoma, Secondary Glaucoma, Congenital Glaucoma and a number of others as well.

Glaucoma most often occurs in people over the age of 40. Approximately 2.5% of people over the age of 40 have Glaucoma and the risk increases with age.People with a family history of Glaucoma and those very near sighted or diabetic are at higher risk of developing the disease.

Man receives an eye examination
Eye examination equipment

Finding Galucoma

Early detection is important for effective treatment. Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if diagnosed and treated early, it can be controlled. Glaucoma is usually only detected in the course of an eye examination. Vision lost to Glaucoma cannot be restored.

There is no one test that will always pick up every person with Glaucoma. A number of test have to be done to assess an individual and not all test are done on everyone.

A comprehensive vision assessment and eye health examination at Shattkys will include a Tonometry test to measure the pressure in your eyes, an examination of the inside of your eyes, a computerised Visual Fields test to check for changes in central and side vision, and a measuremnt of the thickness of the Retinal Nerve Fibre Layer.

One set of results is not enough to be sure in some cases, so the tests often need to be repeated after 3 or 6 moths so comparisons can be made, the point being to prove whether there has been progressive loss or not. At Shattkys we build up long-term comparative data on our patients, (often as digitized data), so we will find the progression as soon as possible.

Regular eye examinations are important for the detection and management of Glaucoma. Although 2 yearly check can be sufficient for some patients, if they are at particular risk of Glaucoma then 6 monthly re-tests will move efficiently detect the progressive loss of vision that is characteristic of Glaucoma. We will advise you on what is the right period between tests for you.

Maintaining good general health is also important to managing the risk of Glaucoma, so keep fit and eat well!

Come in and see us

Kiwi's know that good things take time, so come to us, have the tests done without feeling that you have been "rushed thru", and you'll know what we mean when we say "we take the time!"

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