Glaucoma is one of the growing causes of vision impairment and blindness in the UK.
It is an irreversible and progressive optic nerve disease, marked by elevated pressure inside the eye (IOP – high intraocular pressure).and the gradual loss of vision. If left untreated, this increased pressure within the eye can lead to optic nerve damage resulting in progressive, permanent vision loss, starting with unnoticeable blind spots at the edges of the field of vision, progressing to tunnel vision, and then to blindness.
Normally, a clear liquid called aqueous humour passes through the pupil and drains through a special membrane called the trabecular meshwork. However, in open-angle glaucoma, this fluid becomes blocked, much like a sink that cannot drain, leading to increased pressure in the eye.
Too much abnormal pressure damages the optic nerve, which can eventually lead to blindness.
There are two main types of Glaucoma:
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. The “open” drainage angle of the eye can become blocked leading to gradual increased eye pressure. The optic nerve damage and vision loss usually occurs so gradually and painlessly that you are not aware of trouble until the optic nerve is already badly damaged.
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the drainage angle of the eye narrows and becomes blocked, causing a dangerously high eye pressure. The symptoms may include severe eye pain, blurred vision, headache, rainbow haloes around lights, nausea and vomiting, but angle closure also often occurs without symptoms. Unless treated quickly, blindness can result.
Symptoms do not always occur that warn of the irreversible optic nerve damage being done. But the following warning signs do indicate that you need a thorough examination by an eye doctor:
- Unusual trouble adjusting to dark rooms
- Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects
- Squinting and unusual sensitivity to light or glare
- Change in color of iris
- Red-rimmed, encrusted or swollen lids
- Recurrent pain in or around eyes
- Double vision
- Dark spot at the center of viewing
- Lines and edges appear distorted or wavy
- Excess tearing or “watery eyes”
- Dry eyes with itching or burning
- Seeing spots, ghost-like images
Early detection and treatment are the keys to preventing optic nerve damage and vision loss. You can find out more about your treatment options here.
If you’d like to know more about the treatments available for Glaucoma, or think that you may benefit from a consultation, please get in touch here.